Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A tip for shooting painting reference photos while traveling

Here is a picture I shot in Yellowstone National Park yesterday. It was a gray day so I didn't shoot panoramic views. I don't usually like them as well on gray days. I usually try to shoot "mood' pieces on cloudy days. I was able to shoot half a dozen series of photos. Here is how I usually approach that.

There is not much reason to limit how many photos I take with a digital camera, but I do want to be effective. I don't avoid shooting the random shots that look good, but what I spend my time doing is shooting as if I were set up and painting. So I shot about six different locations only. But I documented them really well. I do a little photo essay on a selected view.

I went in and stomped around as if I was setting up my easel. Then I pretended that I had already painted there. So I shot closeups of complex areas and I got some closeups of the distance too, besides the usual "total" shot. I am shooting "packages" of a single view. Often as many as ten different snaps of the same scene, including closeups and a few variant viewing points.

I don't often paint from photos. I made perhaps two paintings that way last year. But I don't have my easel with me and so if I really do want to make a painting I now have all the material for about half a dozen different paintings.I didn't just wildly shoot anything that looked cool, I carefully gathered everything I would need to make individual paintings that I already knew how I wanted designed. I need to get to bed early as I have a plane to catch at a ridiculous hour in the morning.


Robert J. Simone said...

Love Yellowstone, it's like being on an alien planet, the way the ground bubbles and gurgles and spouts up water and clay. Last time we were there we had to stop the car and wait 25 minutes while a female bison nursed her calf on the yellow line in the middle of the road. A big bull stood guard not 10 feet from us.

willek said...

That photo is terrific, Stape. It reminds me of the first demo you did for us at Sugar Hill. The thing with photographs, is that there must be a good retreival system or a half a day or more can be spent trying to find what you need. I used to dump camera loads on dated CD's, but now use an external hard drive so I can plug it into another computer when I have to. Any good filing systems out there? What about back up?

Gregory Becker said...

There are times when I wish I had a photo but for now or at least this whole year I am forcing myself to refer to my paint and canvas as film and my eyes as the camera. I really have to work on my observational skills this year.

Unknown said...

welcome back from the ski trip. We hope you have all your limbs intact.

All these seascapes had me so inspired I up and painted one. One observation:
You make it look alot easier than it is..

barbara b. land of boz said...

You must feel like a little boy lost without your easel Stapleton.
Your loss, our gain. I can just see you stomping around on the ground looking for "THE" spot!

Thanks for the tips, I take a lot of photographs so that's not a problem. I do not however take all the right ones. I will look at the process different next time.

And yes, we are finally free of snow yea!! We have a beautiful 81*
Hope you enjoyed your mini vacation, It does a body good to get away now and then.

billspaintingmn said...

Thanks Stape! I learning to use any
tools I can to get my paintings to look better, and on others peoples walls!
(I hope that doesn't sound rediculous)

Sharon Weaver said...

This will make a great painting if you do decide to paint it. I have tons of photos for painting a studio piece but am addicted to painting plein air. I just never get around to those photos.

Philip Koch said...

Every time I try to paint from photographs (actually I haven't in decades) I just find I'm not enjoying the process. Guess I'm a stubborn mule about the topic. I have seen it done well by others, but just as often I've seen that creepy "photographic" look skulk its way into paintings. Still, to each their own...

Stapleton Kearns said...

I like the Paradise valley between Yellowstone and Livingston as much as the park itself. I need to do a long painting trip out there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There is also a Jervis McEntee that looks a lot like that.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't enjoy working from photos any where near as much as outside.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am back and have all my limbs.
I never said it was easy, just fun.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It was only about a 4 day trip so I didn't lose much time.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The two are closely related aren't they?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know if I will actually get around to using them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That creepy photo look is death!