Friday, March 24, 2017

Always Expose for the Shadows of the Subject even When you Aren't Taking Pictures

A reposting from a few years back...

"Always expose for the shadows of the subject..."   so says my 1948 focal guide retrieved from storage a few weeks ago.  Somehow the advice suggests other connotations....the realms of metaphor... " always expose for the shadow of the subject."

The other day it was the Walter T. Foster painting book  Seapower that got me thinking this way.
I had looked at the  10" x 14" teaching book  with absolutely no intentions of trying to paint the ocean or the cliffs I live above and yet

 I enjoyed perusing the step by step paintings and the tips and clues to doing the same.
"If you continually think in large masses of light and shadow ..."    "Always think and paint the large masses first..."   "...pick out the lighting...then you will know exactly where you are going."
  So if you know from where the light emanates, you will know where you are going.
That makes more than sense to me. 

Later in the day, out and about on the land,  I found  the painting advice impacting how I saw the ocean waves, the light on the rocks, the blue of the sky.  Lessons for painters are first and foremost, lessons for the eye.

Writers must see carefully too and one's eye must be attuned to many realms.  It's good to be able to see one's own framework of understanding, to filter the light from the dark.  Every heart frames reality in its own terms, its own limits.  To have an impact it needn't be large, but there must be an intersection with other frames of reality other than one's own.

I look at the sea.  Clouds are stretched like peach tinged taffy along the horizon. Light is scattered across the waters so white and shimmering  in areas that the eye can barely absorb the beauty without reflexively looking away.   I can change my visual perspective and for a moment the waters in front of me appear like a bowl, but I know the horizon is distance beyond my scope.

There's a boat out there carrying its own reality across the waters, but to me it is little more than a dark speck.  We are often in each other's view, but seeing eye to eye, well the eyes and the heart can take a lot training.

Such are the topics that have been on my mind lately.  You might enjoy the essay I  wrote this week and posted on Write Purpose  "Why We do the Things We Do "

Now that I have read  my old focal guide, I want to see if I can translate it to my digital camera.   My  notes to my self need to say.."Always be aware of your tendency to just point and shoot on automatic..."   and of course that too has metaphorical implications; I'm not just talking about taking pictures.


Poppy said...

A very intriguing post, Jeanette, and one that evokes a good dose of pondering. I wonder, when faced with the same subject, how does a photographer view it as compared to a painter, as compared to another? Similarly, when there is a difference of opinion between debating parties, what should ensue? Perspective is personal and subjective. Being objective about perspectives is what counts.

Have a wonderful weekend,

John W. Wall said...

"So if you know from where the light emanates, you will know where you are going. That makes more than sense to me."

Love that.

The first time I hiked a dark canyon (Steep Ravine on Mt. Tam) with my painter wife is when I learned that shadows really are blue. I'd considered the blue-ness to be an artifact of film and sensors. It took a painter to get me to properly see with my own eyes.

Jeannette said...

Hello Poppy,
It is a fine day when differences of perspective can inform and help each other. You ask what should ensue when there is a difference of opinion between debating there is a ponderous question. I imagine that the painter and photographer or the poet and the priest who respect each other can avail each other much. But debating, to my ear, implies an end point that does not necessarily hold as highest goal the profound consideration that deep converse with trusted others conveys. You can guess which one I prefer.
Thanks for the visit.

Jeannette said...

Hello John,
I like the image you have conveyed of your keen eyes and those artfully trained eyes of your wife, out a- seeing together and mingling your insights and vistas on my favorite mountain!

Rachel Federman said...

My comment doesn't seem to have taken, but I very much enjoyed this post. I am trying to hard these days--and I have to credit your guidance with helping me along the way --to "see (my) own framework of understanding, to filter the light from the dark."