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Old 01-20-2005, 09:00 PM   #1
Mike McCarty Mike McCarty is offline
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Back lit subjects




Moderators note: I have moved October Reader's question to this section.

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There are lots of dramatic back lit images in photography and cinematography. Could you point me to back lit portraiture paintings and drawings? I don't recall I've seen much and would like to view some good examples that are out there. Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2005, 09:16 PM   #2
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October,

This is a difficult question for me. I have done paintings that were back lit and I have taken many back lit photographs. If you mean that you would like some historical references I think I might defer to others.

If you are thinking in terms of photography, one factor that would remain consistent through this theme would be the necessity to use the spot meter feature on your camera. Failure to do so will cause an effect like the one shown below. The camera will evaluate the high intensity background of the scene and render your foreground subject as objects in silhouette.
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Old 01-20-2005, 11:13 PM   #3
October Reader October Reader is offline
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Thanks Mike, this is a more appropriate spot.

Let me rephrase (Mike, please hack off my original post if you like to avoid confusion, thanks!).

I realize the effects of lighting play a significant part in the "mood" of a painting or drawing. And the choice of lighting is also highly subjective. Different people react differently. For example, some may like the silhouette look of the image you posted above and some may say "use a spot meter!" I assume the choice of lighting is a deliberate one for most painters and drawers. Then I am curious about what criteria justify what choices and for whom.

For example you judged "A pair to draw to" image as appropriate for a portrait. In terms of the mood such lighting produces, why is it so? Hypothetically speaking, if you could have all weather conditions and lighting arrangements in the world, what would you rather have your subjects be lit under? And what justifies that choice? Keep in mind though the scenario needs to be one that has already been tried out and deemed satisfactory. Something like "I PREFER TO POSITION MY SITTER UNDER THE DUST CLOUDS ON MARS " is not quite the answer
Thanks!
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Old 01-21-2005, 12:25 PM   #4
Mike McCarty Mike McCarty is offline
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Quote:
if you could have all weather conditions and lighting arrangements in the world, what would you rather have your subjects be lit under?
That's a tough one October. I know that there are those that specialize in outdoor style paintings. I love outdoor paintings, but I also love indoor paintings.

The success or failure of any painting will ride on whether the light adequately defines the form. This can be accomplished indoors or out. Although, It is more of a challenge out of doors.

When I first started checking in on this forum I read something that Karen Wells wrote and it has stuck with me. Paraphrasing -- "I don't worry so much anymore about how to paint, but what to paint." I condense her meaning to be -- judgment. And more often than not it is the judgment regarding the quality of light.
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Old 01-21-2005, 12:52 PM   #5
October Reader October Reader is offline
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Yes Mike, I realized my question sounds quite general and it seems to be asking "how and what to paint and draw" which takes eons to resolve for anybody if he/she works hard and is talented and persistent enough.

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Originally Posted by Mike McCarty
The success or failure of any painting will ride on whether the light adequately defines the form. This can be accomplished indoors or out.
I couldn't agree with you more. But to what degree does one judge "adequacy"? - highly subjective matter I dare say, and an instinctual one too. I guess "what lighting moves you" is probably closer to what I am driving at. Which leads to:

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judgment. And more often than not it is the judgment regarding the quality of light.
Thanks for trying to respond. I know it's a tough one to wrap oneself around
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Old 01-21-2005, 01:47 PM   #6
Mary Sparrow Mary Sparrow is offline
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October, I am glad you brought up the subject of back lighting.

I don't know how to answer your question, other than to agree with Mike that you just simply need good judgment. I know, I know, a vague answer.

But about back lighting. I simply LOVE portraits with that halo look that is the result of back lighting. Could someone explain to me the best way to achieve that "halo" but still have ample light on the face?
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Old 01-21-2005, 02:10 PM   #7
Mike McCarty Mike McCarty is offline
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Quote:
But to what degree does one judge "adequacy"? - highly subjective matter I dare say, and an instinctual one too
It is an important question -- whether one possesses the judgment to select. I think that sadly, there are those who put in many, many years and never develop the necessary judgment (the jury is still out on mine, that's for sure). Someone should develop a test. Actually I think Linda B. did that for me once.

I do think that it if you have the core mental ingredients it is possible to develop ones judgment. Don't ask me what those ingredients are.

Mary,

Place your subject between you and the late day sun. Spot meter the face of the subject, poof their hair up, and vavoom.
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