Tag Archives: photoshop techniques

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.


How ’bout a sandwich? a hand colored one no less!

No, not the kind you eat, the kind you make w/ 2 B&W negatives. Here’s the negs that went into this one:



When i first started hand-coloring my prints, i didn’t plan at all – i just had an idea in my mind’s eye, and flat out did it.

Once I started doing assignment montage illustrations, i’d put a piece of tracing paper over the print, and rough out what i thought it should look like w/ colored pencils. I was on a deadline, couldn’t afford to blow it. But I’d still attack art prints the same old way, on a wing and a prayer.

But more recently I’ve had instances when i only have one final art print, and started planning alot more.

I always scan the print at hi-res/B&W/tiff, so it’s archived. Then i make a reduced size file of that, and go to work w/ photoshop, the main tools are hue-saturation and selective color layers, created by selecting areas with the magic wand tool. Just picking the larger areas, don’t bother w/ details, that comes later. 

The order of the layers makes a difference, try it out, you’ll see what I mean. (It may depend on the version of P’shop you are using.)

Then i make a print on copy paper, and dig into that with colored pencils.

It’s also possible of course to make a few variations of the P’shop file – easy to get lost in tweaking perhaps, but i don’t, i just don’t have the patience. Sometimes i’ll ‘paint’ a bit on the layer mask to blend, soften edges, but if it takes more the the time it takes to smoke one cigarette?. I’m done, that’s it, fini!

I had these 2 sandwich prints:



The negs were shot in Joshua Tree NP in So.Cal., it’s one spooky place. I had two shots of the round stones, sandwiched on the same landscape. I was printing on a new paper for me, a fiber based textured matte, which i wasn’t sure how much I’d like – the scanner i use sidelights whatever you’re scanning, really emphasizing texture, and this texture is rather pronounced.

So when i print these out, *and hit ’em w/ colored pencils*, i am still lacking any clear cut answer, path to the finish. 


But after some thought, i finally decide to do this one:


I like the way the two stones look.. sort of transparent.

Here’s the final:


And the final w/ a bit of digital icing on the cake:


I guess if these prints could talk, they would say ‘what a long strange trip it’s been’!

RE: ‘materials/supplies’ – I recently bought some watercolors for all of $10, 12 tubes, all ‘classic’ colors which i like. (The marshall watercolors I’ve been using for years are about gone.) They don’t work well on the papers i am using, sooo… a few words to the wise?

‘You get what you pay for’… and… ‘always ‘test’ first, on a scrap.’