Blue Snow and The Cyanotype Photograph

Photographer unknown. Vintage cyanotype, c.1905. Available here

Ever wonder what snowy landscapes would look like if newly fallen snow were a color other than white? In the 19th century, a photographic process known as cyanotypes became popular and images such as the one above, of Mt. Hood in Oregon, turned a winter white scene into a magical blue landscape.

The cyanotype process which produces the distinctive Prussian blue color was invented by Sir John Hershcel in 1842. He treated a light sensitive paper with an iron salt solution and found that by putting the paper in the sun the photo positive image would appear. Because the treated paper could be developed using only the sun, making cyanotype photographs were popular especially among amateur photographers. In the last few years, there has been a revival of interest in the cyanotype process and the blue photographs by both collectors and artists alike.

Looking at this c.1900 cyanotype of a single lone figure ( a fellow adventurer?) walking on the snow covered mountain, I can only imagine the warmth of the sun and the photographer trying to capture the moment. Over 100 years later, the moment indeed was captured and is as beautiful as ever.




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