Denny Moers

Denny Moers, Bannister 3, 1979

Look at this image and try to guess how it was done. Yes, it is a photograph; no, it was not manipulated in Photoshop. It is from a black & white negative printed on black & white darkroom paper. Is it handcolouring or toning? No.

Denny Moers is an American photographer who early on in his career developed a unique and clever technique. Moers prints his negatives on silver chloride paper (probably Kodak Azo). He develops the print, puts it through Stop Bath, but he doesn’t fix it. Instead, he exposes the still wet paper to very bright light, and watches it fog. He then applies diluted fixer with a paintbrush to specific areas. The more fixer, the less colour will take up. To achieve the colour, he chemically tones the print in Selenium or sulfide toners. You didn’t think of that, did you?

I first saw his work in Camera Arts magazine in 1983 and recently discovered his website: There are images from this and other series where this technique was employed and he gives a detailed description of how they were done. Even after all this time, they still seem very fine to me.


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