printing technique

Tree, Heather Farms, CA 1999

This photograph was made on a foggy night. The fog tends to diffuse the light, as you can see on the right hand side, which is too light. The foreground is a bit too bright as well. On this print, the upper left is the tonality I desired. I saw the central tree as the subject, and I wanted it to stand out. This image needed to have the tones balanced out.

This is the final print made in the darkroom. The tones have equal balance, with the center tree having a nice luminosity. The problem is that the eye bounces between the tree, the fence, bench, and leaves on the branch in the upper right. These areas are too difficult to darken under the enlarger, so retouching dyes are used to darken them on the print.
This is how I saw this scene, quite a departure from what the camera recorded. There is a feeling of lightness, yet it is dark; there is a surrealness to the scene.

By retouching the print, the trees stand out because there is less visual noise to distract the eye. Notice in addition to the fence and upper branch leaves, sections of the background were darkened as well, including a sign, a small wall, and behind the middle of the tree. The retouching takes about 2 to 3 hours for every print.