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Slow Going

It's been just over a week since the Snatchabook shoot and already the images are burned onto my retinas! At what point I decided that hand colouring three matching images of a library was a good idea I'll never know.

The main issue is that I have to work on all three images simultaneously to ensure the colours on each one remain as close as they can to its sister images. I want them to be as identical as they can for continuity reasons as I don't want the background pulling the viewer away from the subject.

However, saying all that, because of the format I'm using there will always be some discrepancies in tone and there's nothing I can do about that. This is because the paper absorbs the ink-dye solution differently. Also any undulations in the paper, any change in the amount of solution used and the overall darkness and tones of the print dictate how the dye stains the paper. Ironically, the dye solutions actually causes ripples and oscillations, and pooling can become an issue but this is exactly what makes each hand coloured silver gelatin image completely unique, it just can't be reproduced.

The images above gives some indication to the intricacy involved in painting this series and I don't mind admitting that thus far, the snatchabook prints have been a literal headache to colour.

The colours have to be built slowly and time is needed between each session to allow the paper to completely absorb the dye and dry. Again, a difficulty of this technique is that fibre paper tends to dry darker and so the tones of the dye change as the paper dries. You really never know exactly how the finished print will look.

The video below is a time lapse taken over five hours and gives you a sense of what goes into each hand coloured piece (it's best viewed in HD if you want to be able to see the colours!).

I find it's important to take extended breaks when tackling a project like this as you can become so focussed on a small area of the image it can be easy to get lost and forget the bigger picture. I'll often ask people if I can borrow their eyes as it's helpful to get 'fresh eyes' on the work when you've become so immersed you can't see the wood for the trees (and this happens an awful lot). I won't be working on these images again until Monday now, at which point I'm hoping to return to them with a clear head and 'fresh eyes' to start the next stage.

In between colouring I'm starting to organise my final FMP shoot - Bringing Down The Moon. I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself for this one but more about that in my next post.

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