The perfect shade of brown

I am now on day 3 of my quest for the perfect shade of brown. Yes, the life of an artist is a glamorous one. ­čÖé The color in question is an important part of this new photograph of an acorn cap. The brown I want is the background color at the top of the image, right between the two caps. It is the grounding element for the whole image, and needs to be just right.

Sun and Moon - an abstraction of an acorn cap ┬ęDaniel Sroka

Seems like a simple process — pick the color you want and print it. But no, nothing in photography or digital printing is simple! Color is not a precise thing; it is a wild and unpredictable beast. It shifts and changes depending on a hundred and one conditions: the context of the color, the paper its printed on, the method of printing it, the light you view it in. Every one of these can take your perfect shade of brown, and make it subtly but noticably wrong: too green, or too red, or too intense, or too subdued. Sigh. The only way to get the perfect shade is to experiment again and again and again. My garbage can is full of rejected test prints, my inks are starting to run low. But I am close…. I can feel it.

Update (5:21pm): Success! Houston, we have achieved perfect brown.

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4 Comments

  1. I can completely relate to that endless quest for the perfect matched print (or at least as close to perfect as you can get!) I’ve been printing digitally for a couple of years, and it can still be frustrating sometimes as I experiment. There are so many variables to isolate whenever I’m having trouble. But then again, that’s what I love about photography–I never stop learning.

  2. I had to laugh…success! Houston….
    I like this image alot. Its primal. A woven basket. Its good for me to absorb your ceaseless tries and filling up of the garbage can.

  3. Yes, the garbage can is full. A nice illustration of how creation and destruction go hand in hand. Or in this case, creation and recycling…!

  4. I feel your pain Dan. I’ve been searching for the perfect shade of brown for the past couple of years – for my master bedroom. I have collected quite a stash of paint chips, that I weed out every few months. they are either too yellow or too grey or too PINK. That’s been the biggest suprise, how Pink they lean.

    What a gorgeous photo.

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