Tag Archives: photography

‘Thanks for noticing’ :-)

 I am so glad that this blog was so immediately noticed! Thank you!

I hope to remain interesting for a long time. Let’s see how it goes.

For this post, let’s examine two topics:

#1 – Your choice of paper. Easily the most important decision.

#2 – ‘when to handcolor, and when to leave it TF alone’

IMHO, go matte. Glossy just doesn’t take anything oil, and as for watercolors?… depends on the paper, it may take watercolor…. too quickly to do any ‘work’ on it. It may sink in, and be irreversible. NOT good. Too unforgiving.

Before you work on any print, do tests on scraps. What’s the old saying? “measure twice, cut once’. A way of saying ‘don’t fuck it up’. 

I do montage work, i only have a few copies of any print, i don’t want to mess up any of them. They are all ‘one of a kind’.

Matte surface is my choice, hands down, because it allows working time to blend and mix, or delete color. You might want to try an application of linseed oil first. It will extend that working time, but also give a slightly yellow cast to the image, especially over time/after drying and aging.

There is still plenty available out there, my shopping choice is:


Ilford is still alive and well – they are making a ‘textured’ matte.

Oriental is still around: 


1997 – After transfer of goodwill from Oriental Photo Industrial Company, which is in need of reorganization, established new Oriental Photo Industrial Company.

My two current choices are: Ilford matte ( a completely matte paper, no surface texture, only available as fiber based. And something made by Foma, in eastern Europe, which i just tried recently. It’s not quite the same matte as Ilford, but i made an interesting discovery in working with it: I can use water colors, and ‘work’ with them, washing the paper first w/ some water (w/ a bit(a few drops per 200 ml H20) of ‘photo-flow’. 

Then do oils, and add extra richness/saturation. More on that one later/future posts. A two step technique.

Hey, what’s the lyric to that Eagles song? “Take it to the limit, one mo’ time”.


One important note: Once you’ve done the oil coloring, it’ll need to dry out, right?

Best choice, put it face down on some tracing paper to keep dust from landing and drying on the surface. It could easily show up in the scan.

There is a second consideration here: Now that digital has arrived, you’ll want to scan the work to reprint it. So check out the particular quirks of whatever scanner you will be using. Many years ago, i had easy access to an Agfa scanner ( RIP Agfa! I loved you well!!). 

It showed no surface texture. Lately, I have easy access to an Epson scanner ( a 4000-something, years old no longer made), 12×17+” bed.

It shows surface texture, big time, it almost side lights what ever you scan. Not good, at least for me.

Glossy would scan OK, matte too. But any paper with texture? it’ll show, and that will probably not be what you want.

Kodak (RIP!) made a great matte fine art paper, and excellent ‘tooth’ to it. But it would probably not scan well in my currently available scanner. Nonetheless, it was really good stuff.

(P.S. – 7/9/15 – If you are photographing your work, the above may not apply. But I must add that making truly good digital files is not for amateurs. I work for a digital studio and printing place in San Rafael, Ca. and we see alotta people walk in the door wanting to make large prints from their files made on low end/consumer level cameras – they all suck.)

#2 – ‘When to handcolor, and when to leave it TF alone’.

I mentioned before, i do montage in an old fashioned nasty chemical darkroom ( I LOVE it!)

And i can always ask myself the same question: ‘a candidate for coloring?… or ‘leave it TF alone?’

I can’t imagine Ansel A. coloring anything, can you?

So here’s one that definitely benefits, gets a big boost from color:



Here’s one that would not work as color.


At the bottom you’ve logically got earth tones, at the top it’s blue sky. Coloring would separate the two, and the whole idea is that the tree becomes transformed into the sky, where does one end and the other begin?

Best left B&W, me thinks.

Next post, I’ll talk about coloring materials/options.



About this blog…

The site creator is an old guy who’s been doing hand coloring for over 30 years on his own black and white montage prints, and occasionally for hire on other images. 

Over the years, photo papers have come and gone, with Kodak gone and Ilford trimming it’s product line, a lot of very good papers are history.

(Now digital is here, and there are more digital printing papers out there than you can imagine.How well they can be handcolored? is another story altogether)

Many people have their own web pages RE their techniques, but there doesn’t seem to be a website out there that serves as a directory: of practitioners (photo artists), techniques, and materials. And what the hell – some history and a gallery to boot.

This site aims to tie it all up in one bundle.


To kick it off, here’s one of my old favorites, a walk on the California beach:


Ilford fiber/matte paper, made many years ago, no longer available. Marshall oil colors, no longer available in a configuration that works for me. They will sell you a set of colors that are… random! …and have nothing to do with classic colors = viridian, ultramarine, cerulean, ‘cadmium’ anything!

WTF is this about??

I bought a really simple set of oil colors – French ultramarine, Burnt umber, yellow ochre, viridian, cadmium deep red, cadmium yellow – it takes some work, but i can get to any color from these.