Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Watch the Magic!

The two pictures of flashlights were taken a little before 11am and a little after 5pm on Sunday, June 1st. The flashlights representing two of the primary colors red and blue were photographed using a digital camera set on auto exposure. The flashlights are sitting on my back porch banister. I should point out that there is an awning overhead, so the light hitting the flashlights comes from behind, from the right of the flashlights, in front of the flashlights or bounced off of my house, the awning or the porch itself.

In the 11am shot, I took in a little more wood. In the 4pm shot, I took in a little more sky. I’m a little closer to the subjects in the 11am. I considered cropping and scaling the shots to make them more consistent, but decided not too. It’s easier to tell them apart this way.

When I picked these flashlights in a well-illuminated room they appeared to be the hue of blue and red, I didn’t notice any variation in value. I thought the colors were completely saturated. When I look at them now, I can immediately see there are highlights, shadows and various values in-between.

I have trouble sometimes when someone asks me what are the primary colors; I worked for several years in a photo lab where we would use the additive process. My primary colors were red, green, and blue. Because I was also interested in theater and theatrical lighting, my commitment to RGB color was reinforced. My friends who went to art school confused me by insisting that the primary colors were red, yellow, and blue. All I could say was that’s true for you, but not for me. It’s good to see that our art book shows it both ways. I’ve learned that I can be subtractive or additive. It’s just a matter of reflected light versus refracted light.

As for the two pictures of the two flashlights…

11am is nicely backlit with the subjects both casting shadows on the wood. The red plastic is even a little transparent near the top. 5pm is front lit, but the awning casts a long shadow over both flashlights. Where the direct sun hits the base of each flashlight we see some nice modeling on the blue subject. There is even a nice highlight. The red subject has a longer shadow. The red splotch we do see looks more like orange due to the addition of some warm yellow sunlight. It’s much more noticeable in the red flashlight than it is in the blue.
A nice feature of the 11am shot is the highlight at the top of each flashlight. That combined with the alternating vertical highlights and shadows on each of the flashlights help to define the cylindrical shape of the subjects. The 11am flashlights are much more three-dimensional than the 5pm flashlights. Except for the modeling at the base of the blue flashlight, the two 5pm flashlights are pretty flat with only a hint of highlighted vertical line on the handles.


Misha said...

I had a hard time analyzing your magic. Maybe this was partly due to the effects of the shadows on your flashlights. In the 11 am shot the colors are indeed more saturated and vibrant, as the shadows and edges are more defined. The 5 pm shot is cluttered with the shadows on the flashlights so the coloring is harder to analyze, but a few things that are quite apparent are the blending of the colors into softer hues. Interesting choice of objects and placement! Nice job!

KristinaHarrison said...

You did do what I did I thought using primary colors would be alot better in helping me completely understand what I was trying to convey and learn. I think that you did a great job in explaining the two images. I sometimes think that I am completely out of sorts when I have to pick out a picture and describe it in "artistical" terms. But awesome!!!! And can you belive its almost time for this to all be over with.....scary!!

Michelle Pacansky-Brock said...

Hi Mike,

Good job with your images and your analysis. I too have a background in developing color photos. Color correction used to be maddening to me...is it too cyan or too green? Aargh. So, yes, the primary colors do change depending on whether or not we're referring to additive or subtractive light theory.