Month: April 2009

At Stanford, The Results, Please

My previous post was about an outing at Stanford yesterday with Scott Loftesness. This post will be less confusing if you scroll down and read it first.

Scott processed several HDR images, and I picked the lighting which matched what I was painting, as the clouds were rolling in and out at times. Below is Scott’s final image, which has been scaled down for web display–


Just as a comparison, below is my painting again–


In the HDR photo, it seems the lighted areas of the tower were a bit darker, the color more saturated, and warmer (more reddish) than what I painted. The shadows were about in line with my observations. Although I usually apply more gradient (a gradual value and color change to a particular area) to enhance whatever I am painting I didn’t in this work. You will notice, however that Scott’s image had more gradient, for example the shadow area is lighter at the top and darkens toward the bottom.

I am rather confident on the value accuracy of my painting, and the photo of it shown, at least on my monitor, matches the actual painting. I imagine Scott could adjust the HDR image somewhat, but would probably have to go on location with a computer to match it exactly.

There are no winners or losers here, just observations. The HDR process produces beautiful and stunning photographs. However, I think to accurately capture values and color, painting from real life still wins out.

Scott added a bit to his blog about the day, which you can read here. He also posted more pictures, particularly of me painting, here. This is by far the most anyone has photographed me painting!!

At Stanford

A former business associate, and now friend, Scott Loftesness is also a pretty good photographer. Some time back, he was playing around with HDR photography. Here are a couple pictures from one of Scotts blogs, with the before and after.

Before HDR Processing–

With HDR Processing–

An old axiom of artists and painters like me is that painting is ‘better’ as photography cannot capture the true range of values the eye sees in one picture. In photography the darks are always too dark, and the lights too bright. When an artist paints on location, they paint what the eye sees as it adjusts to the lights and darks of a particular scene. I think HDR processing may have thrown that old axiom out the window!

We decided to get together for a ‘shootout’ where he would take a photograph, I would paint and compare the results. I mainly wanted to see how the values and color would match. We met at “The Quad” at Stanford University. After a stroll around the area, we decided to just shoot one of the the entrance towers.

Below are a few shots of the area–



A photo of Scott during our stroll–


Scott got his shot in and I commenced painting. Just being around Stanford in the cool morning air was a treat in itself. Hardly anyone was around. Here are a few shots of the painting spot.


Scott sent a picture he took of me–


Here is my easel–


The day started a little overcast, but soon the sun was out–


Here is the final painting which took about an hour–


I wasn’t trying to make a ‘world class’ plein air, but rather trying to capture the correct values to compare to the HDR process. As soon as Scott is finished with his HDR photograph, I’ll write another post or two comparing the two.

Landscapes Through Time

Landscapes through time

David Dunlop’s PBS series is a must see for any landscape painter. I have been recording and watching this series, a blend of art, history, travel, science, philosophy, and technique.

First, David discusses who, when, where, how and why they painted. Next, he places his easel at the same place that the artists set their easels and paints that famous landscape himself in the style of the artists, explaining each step of the process, including artistic, technical, optical and perceptual insights – and revealing techniques and secrets of the masters.

Davids enthusiasm is infectious. Don’t miss it!

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