Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hand tinting your paper print using powdered graphite

It is easy enough to 'photoshop' one's monochrome image but there is another way altogether that has a different look and harkens back to the early days of photography; hand tinting.

I have experimented with adding colour, usually water soluble pencil crayons before now, but the other day I bought some graphite powder from Island Blue Print in Sydney for a drawing project. Only later did I find that I could use it on two matte finish 12x18 black and white photos that had never seemed quite right. The images were far too busy with intricate details and I had put them aside. With nothing to loose, I started rubbing the graphite powder into areas on my Burgoyne image that I wished to tone down and later pulled fine detail back up with a sharp eraser. A touch of colour in a foreground detail for accent and I had created a one-and-only photo. A quick spray of odour free varnish sealed everything in.

In the second, Ruckle Park beach photo, the back lighting in the mid-distance was overpowering and I solved this in the same way, toning down the bright trees and emphasizing some detail in the foreground, altering the emphasis among the textural and tonal relationships.

These were subtle adjustments, but the sky is the limit when you start to hand adjust your printed images. The feel is quite different from doing this in advance on the computer screen, it is closer to darkroom manipulation, but making adjustments directly on the paper print has a directness, a personal touch and uniqueness that is very satisfying.

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