Another Door.

Decorated-doorNikon F2sb. Tokina AIs 35-70  AT-X f2.8 Tri-x @ 400 in D76 1+1.

Another one of those images that I could not find a straight area that looked good – so gave up and used the steps and no I do not have a ’tilt & shift’ lens.


I did a print of this negative back in about 2010; but recently I have been working on a new print that has been ‘painstakingly re-touched’ with spotone retouching dyes.

I never liked the mains cable down the left-hand side of the door on the original and  think the owners would have been a little miffed if I’d removed it  🙂            This could have easily been accomplished with Photoshop but……… back in the days when there was no such thing, the only way to remove distractions from an image was using retouching inks.

The technique was very simple in theory; mix the ink to the required colour and with a small artists brush, apply to the print using only the very tip of the brush, dotting the dye onto the paper.

But theory is great until one puts it into practise; it requires a good sable hair brush (the best for holding liquids and obtaining a very fine point) an almost dry brush and lots of patience!!!

If done correctly it is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding area of the print; not possible with colour prints I might add. Ilford Matt or semi-matt fiber papers are my medium of choice because they absorb the ink rather than it sit on the surface. These dyes came in sets of six pre-mixed colours which used together gave an infinite range of shades. Unfortunately (that word again) they are no longer available but, Ansel Adams in his book ‘The Print’ mentions Edward Weston used an India ink and gum arabic mixture. I have modified this slightly by using the Japanese ink blocks which are available in a variety of colours, mixed with gum Arabic and distilled water; it works very well. So when my inks run out I will use this method instead.

Now all this may be an anathema to the purists among you but, I am not making ‘documentary’ images.

10 thoughts on “Another Door.

  1. Interesting blog which I will follow. Although I am now unable to do any darkroom work I still have a boxed set of Spotone dyes which I must have bought in the early ’70s… not that my eyes can discern the tip of a “0000” sable brush anywhere near an errant blemish!

    1. Thanks,
      Fortunately Oman woke up to the fact that its history does need preserving in some form or other. Unlike most of the other countries in the region who lost so much before that realisation came.
      Yes, a door, like steps, with their worn familiarity, give an almost sensory feeling of contact with those that have gone before.


  2. Nice work, David. I used to touch up color prints as well. It was a bit of work, but the more you did it, the easier it got, The computer, though, is a great improvement.

    1. Thanks Shimon,
      Never could get the hang of working on colour prints, so just gave up. But I actually enjoy sitting with B&W prints on a board (music on the HiFi) and slowly working the print until I get the right amount of colour (Tonal depth..?) Very therapeutic.


  3. Great image – I love these old doorways with their subtle lines and textures.

    (and like you, I sometimes have trouble deciding on which straight line looks best).

    1. 🙂 ha straight lines, still it does make life interesting.
      Unfortunately a lot of these doorways are being lost as the younger generation embrace modernity.
      Oman was (is) renowned for its doors, but sadly the pre-manufactured look of the same door is taking over.


  4. Another fine entrance capture!!. By now you know that we seem to like the same thing. And I enjoyed your discussion on retouching. Ahh…memories.
    You have such history in your part of the world. and you are perfectly showing it to those of us that will never have the chance to visit. Thanks.
    When you start employing that D800 you’ll fix any distortion you don’t like with PhotoShop.
    Again, well done sir.

    1. Thank you – much appreciated.
      History: that is one of the things I liked about coming to Oman, there is so much that is being discovered about the country. It also counteracts some of the more negative impressions people have, when they lump the whole lot under the title ‘Middle East’


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