Clive R. Haynes FRPS
This technique has its origins in the very early days of photography when Henry Fox Talbot and colleagues were experimenting with methods of capturing and fixing an image. My "Sun Prints" have all been produced by using standard, resin coated black & white photographic paper which has been exposed to sunlight for some 45 to 60 minutes.
I find that Kentmere papers are most suitable, particularly the 'Art' range, Kodak and Ilford papers also perform well. You will need to experiment with other paper types to discover their attributes and sensitivities. Colours vary from paper to paper as does the 'dry-down' factor.
The shapes and patterns are the result of positioning items directly upon the paper. After exposure, the paper is "fixed", washed and allowed to dry.
The method offers a unique interpretation of reality, however, as with all techniques, a great deal of experimentation is needed to produce an aesthetically pleasing image. It is, however, a fascinating process to either view or to practice, and those familiar with modern technology such as o2 mobile phones and digital SLR cameras will be fascinated to learn how intricate, detailed natural objects like leaves can be captured using techniques from the dawn of photography.
Below are steps and pictures to illustrate how simple the process is - pictures without a camera!
Step 1: In dim conditions, place the subject on the photographic paper. The base is a piece of hardboard.
Step 2: Place the subject & paper between a piece of styrene (glass or perspex are alternatives) and the hardboard base to form a 'sandwich'. Clamp the whole thing together with 'bulldog' clips.
Step 3: Place the subject and frame in direct sunshine and leave for some 50 to 60 minutes. Some papers will react faster than this so experimentation is required.
Step 4: After exposure, remove the subject; its detail will be retained upon the now exposed and darker paper.
Step 5: Place in tray and add 'fixer'. This will result in a bleaching effect and image density will reduce. Fix for 2 to 3 minutes, agitating the dish.
Step 6: Remove the print from the fixer.
Step 7: Place in water and wash for 3 minutes for resin coated paper or 45 minutes for fibre-based paper.
Step 8: Dry the print. The print will 'dry-down' - that is to say, the print will darken as it dries. This is usually in the order of 25% for a 'sun print'.
The finished 'Sun Print'.