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Friday Slide Show: Coloring Eggs Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

19 April 2019

Tomorrow night the tradition of coloring hard boiled eggs will be observed all over the world. It's fortunately not one of those traditions in which the meaning is very meaningful. It's just fun. You color the eggs, they get hidden that night, kids find them in the morning and everyone eats them all week.

The coloring part is always a family activity. The adults mix the dyes and set everything up for the children to design with crayons resisting the dye. Then the kids combine the dyes and the adults finish decorating the eggs. It's over in a flash.

The fun part is figuring out what to do with the white egg shell staring you blankly in the face. There have been some funny ones over the years. "John:46" was a favorite, not for a biblical reference but for a reference to brother John's age. Then there was the unpainted white one with just red stitches drawn on it to resemble a baseball.

For many years, the family would gather in Santa Barbara for Easter. A succession of children, all adults now, would be marshalled into the kitchen for the egg decorating event.

We fondly remember one of the first. Vaguely.

Our youngest brother Bill was living in one of several cottages that were laid out like a motel in a horseshoe pattern on the side of a hill. They were run down (and still are). But they were a step up from a college apartment.

There was a kitchen, two bedrooms (one of which he used for an office) and a front room with a fireplace. And a nice porch with his hibachi on it. It was in the film era, unfortunately, so there are very few photos.

We stayed with him (although we can't remember where, or if, we slept). And for the first time met his girlfriend Michelle, who would become his wife. She was a champ. She cleaned the place up, something that hadn't ever occurred to him to do.

Coloring Eggs. The traditional method seen here at brother John's house in Santa Barbara 19 years ago.

That set the stage for the egg decorating, which was to be conducted by brother Dan's daughter and son that year.

We had a surprise for them, though. The Egg Factory.

Bill had found the cardboard contraption designed to make dunking eggs in dye an entertainment all its own. There used to be a little store in town a few blocks from State Street that specialized in products long past their sell-by date. You could get them for next to nothing. Which just fit his budget.

He recalls a few details.

Cardboard contraption. All I can recall is a tall(ish) paper towel like "smokestack" cylinder rising out of a box with bunnies on it. Gina and Joey seemed to like it though. The Industrial Easter Age.

The two of us spent an afternoon assembling the thing. It was a Herculean task, given the instructions. But every time egg decorating day comes around, we miss it.

Just the mention of the name still makes us laugh. After all, everybody (even a child) knows eggs may come from a lot of places but one of them is not a factory.

The event is always messy and we're all adults now (despite evidence to the contrary) but tradition dyes hard, shall we say. So we grabbed an egg from the refrigerator (not hard boiled) and put it in an egg cup (which can be found in the kitchen cuphoard of any old person) and thought about coloring it.

With light. Using a set of sample Lee Filters we have had lying around for decades.

We used a Nikon D300 (on a tripod) with a Lensbaby Composer Pro 50mm at f5.6 and a +4 macro lens converter to get in close (which played with our focus quite a bit). We set a stage with a black cloth over foam board held up with a small clamp (giving it a three-point stance). And we lit the egg with the Flexi LED macro flash, one arm down low for backlighting and the other up high for the color.

We were done in a flash, so to speak. And we didn't spend much time with them in Lightroom either.

It wasn't as much fun as putting The Egg Factory together but when we were done, we didn't have to soak dye off our fingers before we hit the keyboard.

And we'd only used one egg. Which we didn't lose.

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