Veiled in Grainy Blue, Cyanotypes by Deborah Parkin Center on a Flock of Jackdaws

Veiled in Grainy Blue, Cyanotypes by Deborah Parkin Center on a Flock of Jackdaws

All images © Deborah Parkin

Gregarious and intelligent, jackdaws are small cousins of the crow and raven with dark feathers on their crowns, tails, wings, and lighter plumage everywhere else. The feathered socialites frequent the moor near photographer Deborah Parkin’s home in the Northumberland, where she’s spent hours watching them swoop from branch to branch and perch in trees thick with foliage during a period of grief, and they eventually became the subjects of her quiet, contemplative series of cyanotypes.

The medium, which dates back to the 19th Century, uses a combination of ferric ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide, and UV light from the sun to create signature-colored prints. Parkin tells PetaPixel she encountered the process through the work of English botanist Anna Atkins who was the first to publish a book that included photographic images of dried algae. Following in that tradition, Parkin documents the birds through a hazy wash of the pigment, saying, “in her book on the colour blue, Carol Mavor talks of blue being the colour of memory, and this felt relevant to my work.”

In addition to the jackdaw series shown here, Parkin has branched out to try the cyanotype process with tea toning rather than the two chemicals. She shares glimpses of that project and more photography on her site and Instagram.


 

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