brown lake brown boat: a sepia effect story

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st.achilleios island, prespes, greece

“Black lake, black boat,
two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here?”
Sylvia Plath, Crossing the Water

Red brownish tones and creamy highlights are sepia photos characteristics. It gives them an old and archive impression. Sepia was the color made by cuttlefish’s ink. It comes from the ancient greek word for cuttlefish, “σηπία”. Sepia ink was commonly used from ancient times, by Greek and Romans, until the painters of 19th century.

In late 19th century, an iron-silver photography print process was developed, called kallitype. The results of this process were red brown colored prints similar to sepia ink works. Sepia prints were also known as “brown prints” and “Van Dyke prints”. Nowadays, all cameras and photo programs have sepia effect in their functions and we can experiment with this effect without using a bit of the past chemicals, such as ferric oxalate.

Stevens Dick, Kallitype: The process and the history, Xlibris Corporation, 2013.

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