Pastel dust under the lights


So on the last post I was talking a little bit about how lights affect photographing paintings.  Because this is so dramatic on this piece I wanted to illustrate that for my readers.  The first image where the rocks appear to be golden in color was photographed indoors with both daylight bulbs and a halogen bulb in a lamp that I paint with.  The other image where the rocks appear more gray was photographed in a shaded, but naturally lit area (my patio) with a neutral background.  I did not manipulate the image except to resize it.
When I an standing there painting in the studio and when I look at the image of this painting, what I see is the one with the gray rocks….which is accurate.  So that tells me that the lights I use in my studio work for just that…BUT to photograph them in that light changes the tones greatly. 
Now if I were painting that scene from southern Nevada for instance, the color of that rock would be actually the color of the first painting.  Down around Lake Mead in the Valley of Fire, you tend to see this golden to reddish color of rock.  But that wasn’t what I saw when I took the reference photo in SE Montana!  Another BUT…if I had shot an image in the late day when the sun was close to going down…I might have gotten that sort of image!  Holy Cow!!  Light is a huge factor in painting and photography.
So the message is…whatever painting  you are photographing, it is best to do that in natural light.  Now I know that professional photographers aren’t running outside on their patio to shoot their images….but I am talking about those of us who are photographing our work for either shows and/or archival needs and want a good representation of the piece of art.  There have been good articles written about photographing art for shows in Artist’s Magazine and Pastel Journal and one might still be able to go to their web sites and dig them up.   I just wanted to illustrate simply for you how differently a painting can look under different light.  And I did these with a digital camera using the automatic setting for close up work.  If you read articles about photographing art, you would probably find the recommended procedure is to use a SLR camera, not automatic settings, a light meter, certain f-stops, etc.  A good digital camera can give you great results as I have shown.
Another little piece is the 3rd in the series of 50 off the 90…only by about 100 miles or so…It is a 5×7 on Canson black paper looking to the east toward the Blue Mountains near Dayton, WA.  Spring in that area brings out about every color of green!  It is a beautiful area.  Those big hills are farmed on top and down some of the sides…and beyond the fir trees there are lush fields of grain any place a plow can get to!
So, experiment with some photography of work and see the difference!  As a note, the last show I attended – and I think I may be touched on this last time – some of the paintings looked quite a bit different when viewed on the monitor when compared to seeing them in real life.  And the catalog print images were even different again.  It’s all the variables!  Just something else we need to pay attention to!
Happy painting….
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About bonnie griffith

I am a landscape artist who works in pastels, oils and acrylics. My work focuses on representational studies of the western US. I am basically self taught with lots of workshops and studies with several landscape artists such as Bruce Haughey and Clark Elster. I live in southwestern Idaho, am a native Montanan with a strong connection to the land. I spend as much time as I can in MT painting as well other parts of the northwest. I appreciate getting out in the field and working plein air because there is nothing like completing a painting in the true light of day and visually not being compromised by the use of a photo. In my work, my goal is to produce a piece of work that draws the viewer into the painting and challenges them to explore the scene; get a sense of the time of day, the temperature, the light or lack of. If I have gotten that viewer to step out of their reality and into that painting and enjoy it, then my work was accomplished as I wished. View all posts by bonnie griffith

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