Curtain in the window – Bodie CA

I had 3 different darkroom prints of this one, the varying element being the sky at the top. 


Here’s the negs:



There was also a cloudy sky that got into the act:


I thought this one could definitely benefit from being colored, but which one… and how..? was an open ended question, perhaps even multiple choice solutions. I did some digital coloring, just large areas, and then small prints that i attacked with colored pencils, seeking the ‘aha!’ moment.

What i decided upon was this:


The section of curtain in the center became the focus, lighter than all else. Why? I don’t know exactly. It’s OK to ask questions you can’t answer. If it feels right? Just do it, no explanations or apologies necessary.

Perhaps the Nevada rock face is one thing – a solid severe wall… and the window, something else, the potential for a view. The curtain? Perhaps it shades from the sun, but obscures the view. Is it your choice or perogative to push it aside, get a better view?

Desert Time

First some shameless self promotion, for my three self-published books:

‘California Beach Trip’:

On Amazon:

(CBT is all B&W, the other two are about 40% hand-colored images)

‘Desert Trip’

On Amazon:

‘Seeking the Vibe’

On Blurb:

Previews of all at:


Now on to this month’s image, ‘Desert Time’

Whenever i do a montage print, i ask myself the same question, paraphrasing Shakespeare: ‘To hand-color or not to hand-color, that is the question.’ Sometimes the answer is a clear ‘leave it TF alone’, sometimes it’s ‘definitely!’ and sometimes it’s ‘well, it might be interesting, let’s give it a try’. I’ve always scanned the B&W, so even if i have only one print (and i usually have more than that) by coloring, i have nothing to lose.

Here’s a B&W montage print, ‘Desert time’.


It definitely got the ‘well, it might be interesting, let’s give it a try’ opinion.


Here’s the hand-colored version (above), some watercolor for details, the roman numerals on the sundial, and on the spindly pine tree. Then on to oils for larger areas. I wondered whether the hand-coloring was a bit over the top, so i scanned it (I always do, i have access to a nice ( but rather old – does it make a difference?) Epson flatbed, 12×17 image area) and then did a desat layer, just for the hell of it, for comparison’s sake.


Glad i did, i think the HC w/ no desat. is just fine – the more vivid colors make the whole image ‘rock’, everything pulses in juxtaposition to another color, the green of the pine and the prickly pear underneath the sundial against the yellow of the numbers, against the warm rich raw sienna of the desert rocks. As John Lovett used to say “that’s the ticket!”.

Never be afraid to walk out on a limb – back yourself up w/ scans. add’l prints/ etc. … but walk out on that limb! you will be glad you did. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

That’s the larger advice from this post – ‘walk out on a limb’ … and ‘what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger’.

hand coloring black and white photos