Photography ideas

Home Photography Ideas: How to Create a Sunprint in Just 30 Minutes


Photography Tips (opens in a new tab) for how to create Sunprints from everyday topics

Necessary time : 30 minutes

Competence level: Beginner

Kit needed: Sunprint paper • Printed photos or interesting objects

Watch the video: learn how to create a solar footprint

As the seasons change and the sun reappears, use the increase in light to create your own homemade Sunprints. It’s a great project to do at home in the garden – and it’s also something you can do with kids of all ages when they’re not at school.

First of all, what is it Sun footprints (opens in a new tab)? Simply put, Sunprint is a special type of photographic paper based on the cyanotype process, and it is sun sensitive. you can choose it on line (opens in a new tab) or in craft shops.

When you expose it to daylight, areas that block sunlight appear white and the rest of the paper turns bright blue. These blue prints have bags of character. You can either make prints of physical objects directly on paper, or transfer images taken to your DSLR via a transparency sheet, which is the method we demonstrate here.

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The beauty of this project is its simplicity. You don’t need a darkroom, fancy kit, or extensive knowledge of film processing to get started. Plus, unlike traditional photo prints, Sunprints can be made without any photo chemicals, so they’re really great to try out with enthusiastic kids who have art and science projects.

Find out how you can turn your own digital photos into authentic homemade photo prints using this quick and easy process. All you need is a little sun, water and imagination. Expose, develop, then rinse the paper with water, and watch – like magic – a beautiful, lasting image begin to appear.

STEP ONE: Prepare your image

You will need a negative version of the photo you wish to turn into a Sunprint

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First, decide which photo(s) to try. Generally, high contrast scenes work best, as the end result will only be a blue monochrome. Images that are already black and white lend themselves well to the technique. Avoid complex photos and those that rely on a lot of tonal detail.

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In Photoshop (or similar editing software), convert your digital image to grayscale mode and invert the tones by going to Image > Mode > Grayscale, then Image > Adjustments > Invert (or press Cmd/Ctrl + I). You may want to increase the contrast of the negative a bit before proceeding.

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Print your image at the same size you want on your Sunprint paper. Printers can be a hassle, so this may require some testing and tweaking layout options. Use standard rather than fancy photo paper and, if possible, print your images in black and white or grayscale.

HEAD OUTDOORS: enjoy the sun

You only need a few household items to start this project

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STEP BY STEP: Expose the paper

Follow this simple method for unusual homemade prints

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Fill a container of developer with water and set it aside. Take Sunprint paper, roughly matching its size with your negative. If your kit does not contain plexiglass, use glass from an inexpensive picture frame.

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The blue chemicals incorporated into Sunprint paper are sensitive to ultraviolet light. It is important to set up your prints indoors or away from direct sunlight, otherwise the paper may start to expose too quickly.


Place your negative on the Sunprint paper (blue side up). Line up the glass, negative, Sunprint paper, and a piece of cardboard, then use a few pieces of masking tape to secure it together and keep it from slipping.


Let the print sit for about 20 minutes and check the paper exposure by lifting one corner of the frame. When the edges are white, it is fully exposed. On cloudy days, this may require an additional five minutes.


When there is a clear imprint of your image on the paper, rinse your Sunprint. Remove it from the back of the glass and place it in the water pan. It will change from a negative to a positive right before your eyes.


Take your print out of the water after a few minutes and let it dry naturally. The colors will intensify as the paper dries. Avoid touching the surface of the paper and ideally pin it down or lay it flat somewhere. So !


(Image credit: PhotoPlus)

Why not try placing flat objects, such as feathers and leaves, directly on Sunprint paper? Flatten your favorite objects between the paper and the acrylic or glass sheet, then follow the same method of exposure and development. The exposure time required will be much shorter, as sunlight will not have to penetrate the paper.

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