Anna Atkins was born on the 16 March 1799 and died on the 9 June 1871 was an English botanist and photographer. She is often considered the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. Some sources claim that she was the first woman to create a photograph
She was known for her very early botanical photographs, 1843 book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1st book illustrated with photographic images)
Sir John Herschel, a friend of Atkins and Children, invented the cyanotype photographic process in 1842. Within a year, Atkins applied the process to algae (specifically, seaweed) by making cyanotype photograms that were contact printed "by placing the unmounted dried-algae original directly on the cyanotype paper."
The cyanotype process uses a solution of iron compounds to create beautiful Prussian Blue images. Invented by Sir John Herschel in 1841, the process was very popular in engineering circles well into the 20th century, as it allowed low-cost reproductions of technical drawings of architectural designs – hence the term ‘blueprint’. Anna Atkins pioneered the use of cyanotypes as photographic images, by creating books which documented ferns and algae. She placed specimens directly onto a sheet of paper which had been coated with cyanotype chemistry, and allowed the action of light to create a silhouette effect – otherwise known as a photogram.
It is possible to create cyanotypes using the following methods:
Solar Paper : This is paper that has already been coated with cyanotype chemicals. All you need to do is take a sheet out of the packet, expose it under sunlight, and wash it in water.
Cyanotype Kit: This kit contains the cyanotype chemicals in ready-measured amounts and everything else that you need to make prints, as well as detailed instructions. You can choose the surface you want to coat and prepare it yourself.
Sensitizer: Fotospeed supplies a 50ml bottle of cyanotype solution, ready to be applied to any desired surface.
Anna Atkins used only the cameraless photogenic drawing technique to produce all of her botanical images. With the assistance of Anne Dixon, Atkins created albums of cyanotype photogenic drawings of her botanical specimens. She learned the cyanotype printing method through its inventor, the astronomer and scientist Sir John Herschel, a family friend.
Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns, British, 1853
The final architectural drawing, Anna Atkins
The first photo book made by Anna Atkins - Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843). Anna used the process known as blueprinting, was later used to reproduce architectural and engineering drawings.