Teaching Materials - Exercise

Light and developed image

Name of Artist Educator: Chris Wong
Excercise Category: Technical exercise

Basic optical phenomena will be introduced, as well as the impact of light on the colour of an image.

Concept / Inspiration:

Basic optical phenomena will be introduced, as well as the impact of light on the colour of an image.

Light is a fundamental element in photography. Light plays its role in a subject’s transformation into an image and its representation on a picture. The exercise will begin with the technique of cyanotype. Basic optical phenomena will be introduced, as well as the impact of light on the colour of an image.

No camera is involved in the cyanotype process. Sensitised paper is exposed, washed and dried to develop the print of an object. The greyish blue negative image comes from the primary chemicals found in the classic cyanotype formula, and the outcome of the printing was coined as blueprints. Prior to the age of digital printing, cyanotype printing was mainly a means of reproducing notes and diagrams in different industries, it was later employed in photographic art as well.

Apart from the development of image, light also affects the colour of an object. Although its original colour will not be fundamentally changed by an external light source, its colour representation will vary according to the different characters of light. Students will shoot the same subject under different lighting conditions, from natural lighting in the morning, evening, at night to artificial light. They will learn about the importance of light in relation to colours and image.


To let students to develop personal photography style through cyanotype to understand the importance of light to image development and composition.

Materials / Equipment:

  • Cyanotype Papers
  • Water and its container
  • Students’ personal objects
  • Camera
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Printer or photo printer


Classroom and outdoor environment with plenty of sunlight

Workshop Description:

Part One l Cyanotype experiment (30 minutes)

  1. The exercise takes place along the corridor outside the classroom as sunlight is a prerequisite.
  2. Students place objects on the sensitised paper and place the paper under UV light for exposure; instructor needs to check the colours on the sensitised paper from time to time to prevent overexposure.
  3. After the exposure process, students can rinse the paper in water to develop the image.


Note 1: Similar exercises include “Cyanotype – The contour of an image” and “Cyanotype – Overlapping” by Li Hiu Wa. Sensitised paper can be made with reference to “Cyanotype – The contour of an image”.


Part Two l Light and image (1 hour)

  1. Students will take at least 10 photos of the same subject during different times of the day with natural light. They should record the time the photo is taken and take note of the position of the subject and the lens – the size of the object and the shooting angle should be consistent, this could help the collage process later.
  2. Print the photos out and make a collage of them. Students may start with the composition of the photo: they can cut different shapes (regular or irregular) from different photos. The outcome highlights the difference of natural light at different times of the day, and the impact of light on colours.


Note 1: As it takes more than a day to finish the photo shooting, photo shooting will be part of the homework, while the collaging process will take place in class.
Note 2: Due to time constraint, students are advised to take photos of the view outside their window at home.

Expected Outcome:

Let students understand how light affects an image and observe how light changes at different times of the day.

Actual Outcome:

Generally, students were able to do what had been asked, some students were even able to create a work vastly different from the example shown.

During class:

Some students waited patiently for the image to develop, some kept fiddling with things at hand.

1 2 3 4


Part One “Cyanotype experiment” Student Work:
6 5


Part Two “Light and image” Student Work:
11 10 9 8 7

Student Feedback:

“Cyanotype is a rather direct and simple way to create image.”

“I paid more attention to the change in colour in environment and object under different lights.”

Reference Materials:

How to create cyanotype image: