Photographer Experiments with Leda Paper Creates Surprising Effect

Eureka! Make Direct Print Photos with Your Leda Sketchbook 
Sandy Ramirez

  • Professional photography Sandy Ramirez from New York sent us this photo of his direct photo print experiments.
  • To his knowledge this is the first time a sketchbook has been used to create photographic images. 
  • Below Sandy explains.
Photographers have a need for a sketchbook. Primarily we use them in a different way than other artists. We may sketch out a lighting diagram, draw out a storyboard, paste and collage so to create a mood board.

We'll write - a lot - about things such as gels, lighting, thoughts about what we want to shoot and of course may paste in final images, Polaroids, clip tests and a variety of things.

Photographers also explore experimental techniques in sketchbooks. We explore things like collage and painting. Henri Cartier Bresson as well as Saul Leiter both moved on from photography to painting due to their work in sketchbooks.

Recently I've been experimenting with methods of directly creating a photograph onto a page in my sketchbook without having to remove the sheet or dunk the entire book into a chemical bath.
Direct printing photos onto Leda paper

After a little research I decided on the cyanotype process. I shoot a lot of black and white, so either negatives or creating digital negatives would be no issue.

The cyanotype process in chemically "soft" and wouldn't stress the structure of the paper. The fact that the developer for cyanotype is just water and a fixing agent, I could use misting with a spray bottle to set the image.

I thought to give this concept a try using my Leda sketchbook.

The reason I chose to work with Leda sketchbooks is that so far they have proved quite flexible for me. I don't have to paste in sheets to create a storyboard, and the paper is wonderful to work with and write upon.

I wondered if this crazy idea of directly creating a photographic print would cause any significant damage to the paper.

To my knowledge directly printing on a sketchbook has yet to be documented.

Would it work?

Well folks the answer is YES; you can chemically abuse your Leda and print a photo quite easily! As you can see in the image here, I've managed to successfully coat and expose the paper of your Leda Sketchbook. Now sure, a Prussian Blue vs a traditional silver print isn't exactly the same, but it is something unique and new for my sketchbook.

Here is my step by step process
  • Mask off area to sensitize 
  • Protect other areas with masking material (saran wrap works) 
  • Sensitize paper - you can use either a commercial cyanotype kit or mix your own chemistry. Since the paper is only 81lbs you don't need to use a lot of sensitize. Less than a milliliter will easily coat an entire sheet of the pocket edition. Allow 20 minutes to dry. 
  • Place negative or if you are doing photograms object onto the sheet. I use a glass block to press the negatives into the page as the sketchbook is too thick for a contact frame. 
  • Expose as per your chemistry
  • Once exposed, use a spay bottle and mist the surface of the paper with water. The print will turn blue. You could alternatively try using a waterbrush to develop the image. 
  • Once developed you can intensify by spaying with a solution of Hydrogen Peroxide. I use a 3% solution in a spray bottle that I buy at my local drugstore. This step is optional. 
  • If you intensify, spray again with with water. Spray until the paper is saturated to remove any undeveloped chemistry. 
  • Blot the paper.
  • Allow to dry. Once dry if you want to protect the print simply coat with clear gesso or clear gel. I personally like Liquitex. 
Feel free to try this yourself. Sure it's easier to just edit and print out a sheet in Photoshop, but the act of creating an actual photographic print in my sketchbooks makes me feel like some made scientist or alchemist again. Experiment and improve on this technique!

Sandy Ramirez

About: Goodnews for Artists is an educational blog dedicated to spreading the word about better ways to sketch. Images here are for educational and journalistic purposes. 

1 comment:

  1. this step by step process with through description is just what i needed to complete my photography project. i can not thank you enough