Green Tea: the cyanotype super toner

I’ve played around with green tea before and I’ve gotten a lovely eggplant black that I rarely see unless I’m super lucky with the tannic acid toner.  It’s different, and I hear that your highlights turn pink if you’re toning a high key image.  Interesting.

This go around I’m trying to find a toner that’s simple and doesn’t stain my cards too much.  Regular black tea is fine for my prints and I love the aged look, but the color of the paper just isn’t sexy at all.  I’ve tried coffee for the cards as well, and it does ok until it starts randomly spotting stains. 

As much as I love basic tannic acid toner, it’s too unpredictable.  I can do the  exact same thing 20 times and end up with 20 different variations – and about 15 of those aren’t worth keeping because the image is too degraded or bleached out.  It also has a nasty little reaction to something in our local water, making it a long, arduous process to get right.  Since cards are supposed to be cheaper and easier to sell than prints, I have to work something out.  Enter, green tea.

It’s green.  Literally.  When I brew the mixture to tone the prints in it’s an old dried sea grass green.  Added to water for the toning bath, it’s almost colorless.  That’s why the cards can sit in it for the hour or so required to tone without staining.  And it smells nice – better than coffee.

It does have a little quirk that I’m seeing now.  As seen in this example, it doesn’t tone evenly.  For whatever odd reason, it doesn’t tone the edges where the double coat of emulsion meets.  No idea why.

At first I hated it.  It’s blue!  Horrible blue, bleh.  If I wanted blue, I wouldn’t tone the darn things to start with.  It’s starting to grow on me though – it’s a split tone look that I can apparently achieve without stressing.  So, all in all, I think I like it.  I really like the slightly overexposed versions with the deeper eggplant black.  We’ll see if anyone actually buying cards agrees.   

I’m testing ginger tea as I write this – who knows, it might actually do something cool!

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6 thoughts on “Green Tea: the cyanotype super toner

  1. I actually like the multiple colors that ended up appearing, it gives it an added layer of depth, paricularly in the edges, away from the focal point of the picture which I think makes the whole card seem like a work worth studying and not just the subject baby Christmas tree; intriguing :-D!.

  2. Pingback: Cyanotype toning: the basics « MP Photography | GRAFIKSKOLEN LANGELAND

  3. Pingback: Toning Methods | Alternative Photography Individualized Course 2015

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