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135 — Photographers — Get Thee To a Museum

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #135 dis­cusses how going to muse­ums to study painters and paint­ings can improve your pho­tog­ra­phy. After all, both paint­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy are 2D media try­ing to rep­re­sent a 3D world. When pho­tog­ra­phers study the com­po­si­tional and light­ing tech­niques used by paint­ing mas­ters, their own pho­tographs often improve.

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Caravaggio - The Conversion on the way to Damascus - 1601

Car­avag­gio — The Con­ver­sion on the way to Dam­as­cus — 1601
Look how the scene and the sub­jects’ faces are lit, look at the ges­tures of the sub­jects and the over­all com­po­si­tion. Pho­tog­ra­phers can learn a lot from the mas­ter painters that lived long ago.

 

When it comes to light­ing por­traits in pho­tog­ra­phy, painters have been think­ing about the light­ing for their own sub­jects many hun­dreds of years before pho­tog­ra­phy was invented. Pho­tog­ra­phers can learn so much about light­ing by study­ing the great por­trait painters.

 

Rembrandt - Self-Portrait - 1630

Rem­brandt — Self-Portrait — 1630 — Rem­brandt is well known for his por­trait light­ing style. The tri­an­gle of light on the darker side of the face is one of Rembrandt’s sig­na­tures. Pho­tog­ra­phers love this light­ing tech­nique and it has become a basic por­trait light­ing style in photography.

 

 

Rembrandt - Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph 1656

Rem­brandt — Jacob Bless­ing the Chil­dren of Joseph 1656 — Lovely light­ing, great ges­tures and inter­est­ing com­po­si­tions work well in pho­tog­ra­phy as well as in painting.

 

When it comes to pho­tograph­ing moun­tains and other land­scapes, pho­tog­ra­phers often zoom right into them as their first instinct and of course that’s a good thing to do for a shot or two, but then what? By study­ing the com­po­si­tional tech­niques of land­scape painters, we see that they often include lots of ele­ments that com­pli­ment the main focal point in their images.

 

A.Y. Jackson - Winter Charlevoix County - 1932-33

A.Y. Jack­son — Win­ter Charlevoix County — 1932–33  - We can see that this paint­ing has a moun­tain in the back­ground. But it’s the way that Jack­son ties in the fore­ground and midground with their visu­ally inter­est­ing ele­ments that help make this land­scape paint­ing interesting.

 

Links /resources men­tioned in this pod­cast:
Out­line of paint­ing his­tory
Car­avag­gio
Rem­brandt
A. Y. Jack­son
Group of Seven (artists)

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Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!