Monday, August 11, 2008

Values in the landscape - learning to see again

Ever since spending a week learning from Richard McKinley, Tom and I have been looking for values in every scene before us. On the way out of Bend, we stopped at Smith Rocks again to do some value work. The photo above is of one of the beautiful rock formations. Even though I know that the camera lies about values, you can see some of the darks in the shadows and crevasses. Such a beautiful place. Keeping in mind the value challenges of the camera, I have selected a few representational photos of what we have been seeing, drawing, and discussing on the way to St. Cloud, Minnesota (our present stopping place).

This is a view from the west side of Logan Pass from the Going To The Sun Highway. We were stopped for road construction, so took some photos. Notice how the values go from the dark shadow in the foreground to a middle value on the nearest ridge, finally to a cool light value on the distant ridge. This is a pretty good photo showing the warmer tones closer and the cooler tones in the distance. This is something I have to work on. I tend to use too much warmth in the distance at times.

This was taken from a trail in the Many Glaciers area of Glacier NP, I think. Once again, look at the warm darker values in the foreground and the cooler lighter values in the distance. One of the things I am working on is to make sure the darker values in the distance, like in the shadows, are not as dark as the darks in the foreground. I also need to make sure I don't do major value jumps in any one area. Sometimes in the studio, I relied too much on the photographic image. Since I am learning to see again in real life, I am seeing that photo images cannot be relied upon completely. Value sketches are much more reliable.

This is not about value. I just had to throw it in because it was so cool seeing these beautiful animals so close. This herd of bighorn sheep was in the meadows at Logan Pass. They were very close to the boardwalk feeding on alpine lilies.

This photo is a perfect example of how a photo can lie. This is the Painted Hills area of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. It was taken on an overcast day. Notice that the values read the same from front to back. It was not that way in reality. It was also much more colorful than the photo shows. The hills were brilliant pinks, calming ochres, and many shades of browns and lavenders.

This last photo was taken from the car, at 72 mph. It is a field of sun flowers along I 94 in North Dakota. I kept wanting to get a good photo, but the people who plan these roads simply do not have artists and photographers in mind at all. Don't you think they should build in pull-outs for plein air painters in spots like this? So far, we think Montana wins the prize for artists pull-outs. Or course, they are cleverly disguised as scenic overlooks or chain removal spots.
Today, we head further east. We will still be looking at values. In a couple of days, we may even be able to stop and paint again, if the weather holds out. Forecast is for rain and thunderstorms to the east. I will post again on Friday when we get to Boston.


Ian said...

Just read the blog that we've missed; we're pleased that you're sharing. and whoever doesn't think that picture of the bullhorns isn't entirely STELLAR is impossible. Hope to see you guys soon-- the plants are thriving, - Ian & Rachel

Virtual Voyage said...

Good to see you back on mine, and enjoyed this post. They definitely don't make roads for plein air artists or photographers, do they!