[alt-photo] Re: color theory?

Diana Bloomfield dhbloomfield at bellsouth.net
Wed Nov 23 00:10:51 GMT 2011

I'm continually stunned by working on a print and thinking, this is  
just not gonna work, and then I add that last layer-- and wow-- it all  
comes together.  I'm still surprised by that every time.  I typically  
put down the blue layer first, just so I can see to register.  If  
something doesn't look right, I'll go back and add another layer-- but  
I think, traditionally (maybe in some printmaking worlds), the lighter  
layer would go down first, but I just can't see anything to register  
well enough, after that, and I do it all by eye-- so laying down the  
dark layer first just works better for me.  I never understood the  
registration pins (too technical for me). ;)  I also use a vacuum  
print frame, so it's much easier to register by eye, and then if it  
doesn't look right after turning on the print frame, you can go back  
and adjust before exposure.

On Nov 22, 2011, at 3:58 PM, Kurt Nagy wrote:

> I guess I just need to dive in and experiment with different colors  
> and layers.  I actually had luck with a few prints using tricolor  
> from just one BW negative.  They looked like complete failures until  
> I added that last layer.
> A side question, do you normally move from darker layers to  
> lighter?  I was just playing around with black/grey and registration  
> by eye is obviously very hard starting with a lighter color to a  
> darker one
> On Nov 22, 2011, at 2:38 PM, Diana Bloomfield <dhbloomfield at bellsouth.net 
> > wrote:
>> That's a good point, Paul.  I'll second that.  And that "beautiful  
>> uncertainty"  might make the process frustrating at times, but   
>> that's such a great way to put it, and it does make it all so much  
>> more interesting.
>> On Nov 22, 2011, at 3:33 PM, Paul Viapiano wrote:
>>> Kurt,
>>> A lot is decided as the print unfolds...many times a color won't  
>>> print as dark or as saturated as you planned, which will make your  
>>> next move different than you originally thought.
>>> There's a beautiful uncertainty to gum that allows one to go with  
>>> the flow. Many times I planned on doing 3 layers and ended up with  
>>> 5 or 6, because the print didn't say *finished* to me...
>>> Paul
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Kurt Nagy" <kakarott76 at hotmail.com 
>>> >
>>> To: "The alternative photographic processes mailing list" <alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org 
>>> >
>>> Cc: "The alternative photographic processes mailing list" <alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org 
>>> >
>>> Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 12:27 PM
>>> Subject: [alt-photo] Re: color theory?
>>>> Thats what I was looking for,
>>>> I mainly work with traditional b/w in my darkroom so I was  
>>>> looking for a game plan on how to attack multi-layer colors from  
>>>> a single negative.  I'd seen several beautiful prints that had  
>>>> upwards of 8 layers but wasn't quite sure how the artist picked  
>>>> their colors.  Obviously it's subjective to the image and what  
>>>> you're wanting to convey but I like having a starting point to  
>>>> experiment from ;)
>>>> Thanks for the reply
>>>> On Nov 22, 2011, at 2:02 PM, Diana Bloomfield <dhbloomfield at bellsouth.net 
>>>> > wrote:
>>>>> Well, okay, since nobody else answered, I'll just say what I  
>>>>> do.  I mentioned to someone recently that I use only about 3,  
>>>>> maybe 4, pigments, and then they saw this big old tray of  
>>>>> watercolor pigments, filled to the brim, in my studio.  They  
>>>>> asked what happened to my "3 or 4 pigments" that I use.  I then  
>>>>> had to explain how many shades there really are of blue or  
>>>>> yellow or magenta-- kind of like trying to find the perfect gray  
>>>>> wall color-- some have bluish or violet casts; others have green  
>>>>> casts; still others have a red cast . . .  (I just painted my  
>>>>> living room wall a deep taupe gray, so I am way too familiar  
>>>>> with that perfect elusive gray-- though I think I found it in  
>>>>> Ben Moore's "Ashley Gray," in case anybody cares.)
>>>>> Everybody is different, but I tend to stick with either Daniel  
>>>>> Smith watercolors or M. Graham, and typically use a Prussian  
>>>>> blue for my cyan layer; a quinacridone gold for the yellow; and  
>>>>> something to the left of a real magenta for my magenta layer  
>>>>> (typically a burnt scarlet).  For some reason, whenever I use a  
>>>>> real magenta, things come out a little too pink for my taste.  
>>>>> Those are for tri-colors.  For multi-layer prints, from one b&w  
>>>>> negative, I stick with a lot of warm browns and maybe a prussian  
>>>>> blue to darken shadows and maybe a gold for some highlights.  I  
>>>>> don't do a lot from one negative, but when I do, that's what I  
>>>>> do..  That's kind of vague, I guess, but there you have it.
>>>>> Diana
>>>>> On Nov 22, 2011, at 11:10 AM, Kurt Nagy wrote:
>>>>>> Since we're on the subject of our individual process.
>>>>>> How does everyone decide what combination of colors to use for  
>>>>>> a given print.  Not a tricolor per say but a multilayer print.   
>>>>>> I'm rather new at gum printing and have had success with single  
>>>>>> layer and even single negative tricolor but I haven't tried  
>>>>>> multilayers, mainly cause I'm not sure what works best.
>>>>>> I guess this is more of a color theory question.
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