Photographer Mathieu Stern is often using interesting camera gear, lenses and even trying unusual photographic processes. His latest project was to create an ‘anthotype’ print, also known as a phytotype. This photographic process was invented all the way back in 1842 by Sir John Herschel.
To create an anthotype print, you must use photosensitive material from plants. Materials ranging from flower petals, fruits and vegetables can be used. A sheet of paper is coated with the photosensitive material and then partially covered with an object or a photo positive before being exposed to light. The area of the paper which was not covered is essentially bleached, leaving color behind only in obscured areas of the image. There is no fixer used in this photographic process, so the paper remains sensitive to light.
As you can see in Stern’s video below, for his anthotype print, Stern used beetroot juice. After filtering the juice, Stern applied it to a piece of paper and let it dry. He then repeated the process for a second and third coat. After preparing his paper, Stern placed one of his transparent positives over the paper and placed them both in a wooden frame. He then left the positive and beetroot paper in the sun for a week. You can see the full process and result in the video below.
If you are looking for a fun project to try at home, creating an anthotype is a neat option. Stern also recently tried his hand at the cyanotype photographic process. You can learn how this went by clicking here.
To view more of Mathieu Stern’s work, be sure to visit his website. If you’d like to see his videos, you can view them on his YouTube channel. There you can find a lot of interesting experiments, including Stern creating a lens using ice, adapting many old lenses to his modern mirrorless cameras and much more.
Returning to Stern’s inspriration, the creator of the anthotype photographic process, Sir John Herschel, led a very interesting life. Born in the late 18th century in England, Herschel spent time as a mathematician, astronomer, chemist, inventor and experimental photographer. Herschel also invented the cyanotype photographic process, which became the blueprint. His contributions to science were many.
With respect to photography, Herschel made numerous contributions. In addition to creating cyanotype and anthotype photographic processes, Herschel is credited as the first person to use the term ‘photography’ itself in 1839 and the first to use the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ within the field. Also in 1839, Herschel’s fixing agent was used by his friend, Henry Fox Talbot as Talbot raced against Daguerre to perfect a photographic process using negatives. That same year, Herschel himself made what is considered to be the first glass negative.
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