Monday, June 29, 2009

Before I Hand-Color:

The hand-coloring of my images is really the last step of my process. When I was still using film, the workflow consisted of taking the photograph, processing the film, developing the print and then toning. I use to do a lot of batch work during this time. I would go through phases where I shot a lot film, spent days in the darkroom, and then for weeks my time would be devoted to hand-coloring all the photographs I had just printed.

Since I went digital I spend more time with individual images before moving on to the next one. I like this approach.

One thing that has really changed since my digital transition, is I now shoot in color.

This image is shown exactly how I shot it originally. I thought it would be fun to show the progression of this photograph. There was no question that I would crop this, but after playing around a bit I decided that I liked this crop the best. The reason I didn't photograph the flowers this way in the first place was because I truly believed that I wanted to show the whole vase of flowers. That was before I started to experiment and found I really liked this slightly panoramic look. There are photographers that would say you should never have to crop, but there are a lot of rules I don't follow!

While you can change your camera to shoot in black and white, I find I have a lot more control of the final image if it's in color first. There are many ways to convert a color image to a grayscale one, but the technique I use the most is the black and white adjustment layer in CS4. With this method you control the different channels instead of simply switching the mode to "grayscale".

Adding a slight warm tone is the next step.

But I am not finished yet. Before I am ready to print I usually add a soft focus filter and sometimes a special edge treatment.

© Dianne Poinski

With the exception of converting to black and white and the edges, every step I performed digitally I also did in the darkroom. I believe every photography student should learn darkroom printing. The tools I use the most in Photoshop are the same ones I used in the darkroom - cropping, exposure, contrast adjustments, dodging and burning. I understand these tools better because I had to manually perform them during my darkroom days. I also feel that my darkroom experience has increased my appreciation and delight in the magic of Photoshop and I have no desire to go back!


  1. Dianne:
    Thanks for sharing your process. Do you find that CS4 has enough new features to warrant an upgrade from CS3? I can't decide whether to bite the bullet and spring for the newer version.

  2. Thanks Marianne!

    I upgraded from CS2 so I don't know about CS3. I know CS4 had quite a few more features than CS2.

    Maybe someone else knows??

  3. Fascinating! I never would have guessed that you weren't starting with a balck and white image.

    I love how you cropped this one.