Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Backlit Altocumulus Study

oil on card 38x23cm

First of the New Quickies, taken from a photo I took in late summer 2011. 

It’s Bruntsfield Links, below some brightly backlit Altocumulus clouds, and not really mucked around with at all. The tree line (I’ve omitted the rooflines) is cropped slightly from the photo to give me the ‘bookend’ tree masses, but I’ve used the entire width of the sky in the source.

I’m very happy with the efficiency of the trees and grass, and there does seem to be some light in the sky, but I’m disappointed with the paint surface of the clouds. It’s somehow got very lumpy and rough, and will probably gather dirt and dust in quite a short while – negating whatever brightness there is now. Which is annoying.

I’ve made the trees and ground elements a bit darker than they would appear in life to exaggerate the shine in the sky, but lighter than in the source photo. There’s a dynamic range problem that arises when trying to photograph the sky – either the brightness throws everything else into impenetrable gloom or the sky is so overexposed that the cloud forms don’t register in the general white-out. It was a problem solved fairly early on by the 19thC French photographer Gustave le Gray - combining two separate exposures of sky and sea in one print to produce an acceptable optical solution.

So there you go.

Ten hours max over five separate days, which is like greased lightning for me…

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