Monday, April 08, 2013

PhotoProject :: What would JMW Turner do?

J M W Turner was a English water-colourist, while he is highly venerated today that wasn't always the case. It is Turner's use of atmospheric colour & drama that sets his work apart. He also had a brilliant eye for composition.

So in this photoproject I am wondering What would Turner do? I'm starting with an ordinary photo of the sunrise, a strong lighting theme Turner liked and painted often. My photo is the last in a panning series where I was following a seagull, albeit a little too far away, but the clouds seem to have potential while the image is actually a bit heavy and dark.



Turner's work are beautifully composed, and landscape photographers particularly should study his works. He had a knack was placing his main subjects and points of interest right on those imaginary lines that split the axis of the shape into two, in the ratio 1 to 1.61803398875, better know as the golden ratio.The other important aspect of his composition was the balance. Both in terms of positive and negative shapes and detail versus just ephemeral atmospheric suggestion.

lightroom develop moduleLightroom does have some nice cropping guide overlays and the golden ratio is there right in the middle of the list. It looks a little like the rule of thirds but the lines are closer to the centre. You can use the O key to cycle through the various overlays. Here I am cropping to not only get the bird is on the intersection of the golden ration lines, but the emerging sun is also on one of the lines (the right hand side)


ColourThe Fighting Téméraire

Lets look at Turner’s colour scheme. In his famous painting The Fighting Téméraire, Turner has used a dominantly a cool blues and greys pallette, with a small amount of rich warm colours to capture the setting sun and its reflection. Tonal Hoistogram from The Fighting TéméraireIf you load a copy of his painting into lightroom you would see have a well balanced histogram of tone, with the cools dominating the shadows and warms dominating the highlights.


Match Palette dialogueCorel painter essentials has a nice little match palette feature, which is as simple as identifying the image you want to “borrow” the colours scheme from. After adjusting the colour palette to match Turner’s which in this case mainly involved brightening. imageI saved a copy of my modified photo and once again looked at it in Lightroom. Turner was renowned for using strong colour and particularly his yellows, Gamboge, Quercitron and Indian Yellow, So I’ve lifted the luminance slider on orange/yellow a fraction and eased back on red/purples. This is my Final Photograph (larger image below) as Turner might have wanted to take it. Thinking about what Turner might do has helped transform this from an ordinary and heavy photo (upper left image) to something fresher. Since I also had the image in Corel painter I figured I’d let its autopaint feature make a watercolour of the same image, and that was a bit of a disappointment not Turner-ish at all but i tend not to like auto-painting anyway.
original photo    Corel painer essentials - auto watercolour

IMGP9709-8 turnerish photo-11

Click on the images above to view them as larger versions.
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