How the Art Happens - Vintage Crested Butte

March 14, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Vintage Crested Butte

Vintage Crested ButteVintage Crested ButteThe snow covered peaks of Paradise Divide tower over the town of Crested Butte, Colorado in this selective color approach to a contemporary scene.


This post will be the first of a series talking about how some of my best-selling images have been created and, more importantly, why they were created and what they mean to me. I hope you enjoy this series.


I have been a photographer most of my life with my interest beginning in high school and eventually leading to a degree in photojournalism. Back in the '70s,  while I was in school,  black and white photography was the method taught in school and used most in newspapers. I love black and white photography even though I rarely use this approach today. A monochrome photograph makes a viewer think about the subject without the distraction of color and realism. It presents the subject in a more abstract version requiring more attention.

Back in the "olden days" color photographs were not an option. But, photographers tried to add color to black and white images, for their own reasons, which I will not go into. They would use transparent oil paints to add color to their black and white prints using brushes and cotton swabs. These hand-tinted prints were quite popular and became the first color photos. 

I really like the hand-tinted look, especially when it's not applied to the entire image but only key elements. This spot-color technique has been used for years in wedding, portrait, and advertising photography. Remember the Cherry 7-UP commercials from the '80s? I invested untold hours into trying to learn this technique with extremely poor and sloppy results. Perhaps it was my love of coffee or just lack of patience, but I could never create a hand-tinted image I was happy with. I was a frustrated artist when it came to hand-tinting photographs!

Many years later, most photographic artists use digital photography to express their statements. Me too! The tools and techniques available to us today are amazing and finally allow us to create our visions of images that we only dreamed about 50 years ago. If he were alive today, I'm sure Ansel Adams would be crafting his amazing images using digital tools. The huge added benefit, today, to creating our photographic artwork, is that we only have to create one "original". Using older techniques, I would have had to hand tint every single print, one at a time. I'm not sure I would have ever earned minimum wage with my skills.

About 30 years ago I moved to my favorite little Rocky Mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado. It sits at the end of the pavement, in a broad valley beneath towering peaks to the west. The town began as a mining town in the late 1800s and the original architecture is decidedly Victorian and very colorful. The landscape dwarfs the town. This is the story I was trying to tell with this photograph. Colorful town. Towering mountains. Dwarf town. Broad valley. Beautiful. I made this photo, originally, in color. It was pretty. The mountains looked "towering". The town was dwarfed. The buildings were lost in the lovely, however. How can I make the homes stand out in the scene? They are visually, such a small part of the landscape. I troubled over this photo for quite a while before I had the thought. "Hey, what about that spot-color, hand-tinted approach you like so much?" I had never really tried the approach using my digital tools but it had to be easier than using oil paints and toothpicks. It was!

The result is the artwork I call "Vintage Crested Butte". It's just, exactly, what I was trying to present. (And I only had to do it once!) To learn more about the actual technique of digital hand-tinting see this blog post.

I hope you enjoy my photos. I would love to know your thoughts. You can leave a comment at the top of the post by the date.


No comments posted.
Other Sites and Links

Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

Studio Website

Facebook page

Artist Statement

Artist Resume

Contact Dusty Demerson

Be the first to see this blog, get a free eBook, see new images, and seasonal promotions by signing up here. Sign me up. I'll send just a few emails a month to keep you up to date on new blog posts and special promotions. I promise not to share your information or send you spam! You can unsubscribe at any time.