Tag Archives: black and white photography

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’.


Secrets 2 – I opened up (another) Pandora’s box, yet again.

A long time ago, like about 1973 at No. Va. Community College, a photo teacher made a suggestion to the class that has always stuck in my mind.

“Every once in a while, pull out a bunch of your proof sheets, and look ’em over, see if maybe, just maybe, a frame tickles your imagination that hadn’t before.”

I do that regularly. And one day recently i came across this image:


It was taken at Musee Mechanique while it was still on the bottom floor of Cliff House / Ocean beach/ SF, CA. Love this single frame, just big hi-lites, deep shadows. Late afternoon light blows in the windows, selectively illuminating whatever it will, old time amusements, before TV or radio, or internet (a constantly suffocating presence). The place was smelly, cramped & noisy as hell. I shot alot of interesting negs there.

The Musee mechanique image *really* piqued my interest not just by itself, but for something else i had done a few years ago, a darkroom print 11×14″


This was definitely made to be monochromatic, B&W, no color.

But the MM image could definitely be colored!


First i just did some digital coloring on the straight image.

Then printed that, and attacked it w/ colored pencils for the details.


Then i put together a digital image, using the previous sky with the Musee mechanique image.


Printed those, and pencil colored them. Is this crazy or what? Did i go out on a limb?? Yep, fer sure. Glad i did. I learned just how long that ‘limb’ could be. And how bouncy and resilient.

Here’s a few alternates, a bit ‘softer’:Secrets2_alt.CLR


“It starts with you telling the image what it will be. It ends with the image telling you what it will be.”

Robert Rauschenberg

So i felt like a tennis ball being whacked back and forth over a net. Sometimes it’s better to relinquish control, give in to ‘the force’.

Maybe one day I’ll do a darkroom print of this … when i decide how i want to color it.