Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery
Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history
Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history Poverty Bay - taonga maori
Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery

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Not Just Black & White

Not Just Black & White Gallery


Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history

Poverty Bay - taonga maori

Not Just Black and White features a small selection of images from the Tairawhiti Museum’s photographic collection in which images that have been altered using the technique of hand-colouring or ‘hand-tinting’. Originally slated by conventional photographers as being “a rank perversion of photography” and as “a dreadful imitation of painting” by artists, hand-colouring emerged as a useful technique in the photographers and printer’s toolset. Hand-colouring remained the easiest and most effective method to produce full-colour photographic images until Kodak refined colour film in the 1940s. The images in this exhibition illustrate various levels of artistic ability and the range of subjects enhanced using hand-colouring techniques.

The exhibition was displayed at the Tairawhiti Museum during February and March 2010. Images displayed within the exhibition have been digitised and are now available for viewing here....


How a hand coloured photograph is made.

To start with a black and white print was made. Often the print was given a light sepia wash to give a base colour. Colour was usually applied by brush however, as in painting, other techniques such as sponge and air brush could be used. Generally a medium that was transparent was used. One could simply wash an entire area, say the grass, with the same colour green and the various tones within the black and white print would show through as different tones of green.

Photographic suppliers produced special inks to use in hand colouring. Colourists would however use a variety of material from water colour pigments to food dyes. Today it is popular to imitate the art by using such computer programmes as Photoshop. Whatever method was chosen, a good result relied on the hand of the colourist and their choice of palette.

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