Sunday, June 12, 2011

Using reference photos

Detail from original reference photograph
How I changed them in the digital sketch
The drawing on canvas to start painting
The use of reference photographs is becoming increasingly admitted to. I use them extensively. It allows me to capture accurate moments in time. But there is also a danger in using them, especially using prints. In traditional old prints, the colors become averaged out. Greens especially get unnaturalness to them. When you look at them carefully, trees and grasses have a rich diversity of color which a photo will often average out. Slides are much better. When I first started to use photographs, I had a simple viewer I frequently referred to. It was very clumsy though. Now I work digitally. I can manipulate and enrich a photograph. I can also compline several different exposures, so that the detail that we normally see in shadows and is normally lost in photographs is not lost. While I am working I can change the exposure constantly to see what I have in my minds eye. Photographs are a tool that are best used when you are constantly observing and analyzing the real world. Until recently I was trying to paint a moment captured in a photograph without changing anything. I felt that I was honoring God for the way he had it. I was trying to recreate nature. This caused no end of frustration because what I was actually doing was taking vibrant experiential life then flattening and killing it. I could not really reproduce reality, so why try. This has led to a total rethink of my purpose in painting. More on that next time. I have included A reference photo and what I have done with it.

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