Photo Tips and Tricks

Put a ghost in your ghost town photographs...and other easy tips to create cool pictures

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Before color photography was invented, people took black-and-white photographs and hand colored the prints for dramatic effect. You can achieve that same effect today.

Black-and-white prints (preferably with a range of tonal values and few dark areas) on matte or semimatte paper, art pencils or crayons, watercolors, felt-tip pens, oil paints and a container of hot water.

Wet the black-and-white print, either by submerging it in water or blotting it well with a damp cloth. Remember to keep the photograph wet throughout the project. Then color the image with art pencils, crayons or felt-tip pens, or with watercolor or oil paints, using brushes, cotton swabs, blotting paper or sponges.

Don't be afraid to experiment. Felt-tip pens create a sharp-lined, dramatic look while watercolors leave behind a soft tint. Crayons give texture. Remember that lighter-colored areas of your photograph will show tinting more clearly.

Web resources
Visit and The Light Factory for hand-coloring materials, additional tips and examples of hand-colored photographs.

Create Surreal Images with Pinhole Cameras

Simply put, a pinhole camera is a camera without a lens. Pinhole cameras come in many sizes and are made of materials you can find at home or on vacation: oatmeal boxes, seashells, soda cans, long poster tubes, even vegetables and vehicles (Smithsonian, May 2000). Children and adults alike can design and build pinhole cameras.

Any size or shape of container and black-and-white or color photographic paper.

Drill a very small hole on one side of your container. Insert black-and-white film, color film or photographic paper into the container opposite the hole. The hole allows a small beam of light to pass into the box to create an image on the photographic paper or film. You can expose the film for however long you like, from seconds to several hours. The film will need to be developed in a darkroom.

Pinhole cameras often alter or bend objects and landscapes. Distorted images can be either soft, sharp or folded in upon themselves. Different-sized objects (a shoe and a building, for example) in a single picture can appear to be the same size. The size and shape of your camera will also affect your results.


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