Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Emily in Raking Light

Getting a good digital representation of an oil painting is difficult. I usually scan my paintings, but lately my digital photography skills have been improving. Finally realizing that one of the polarized lighting gels I made six months ago was rotated 90 degrees in the wrong direction was a good step (thereby creating glare rather than removing it.) Being able to remove glare from my photos in this way makes digitization go a lot faster.

Another perk is that I can also get good "raking light" photos like the one below without too much glare on relief brushwork. The term, raking light, means to have one light aimed at an angle very near to the plane of the surface being photographed (the painting.) This causes any bumps on the surface to cast shadows and shows all of the three-dimensional relief of the otherwise two-dimensional surface. This three dimensional quality is a major part of what is lost to a viewer when seeing a painting on a computer screen.

Among other things, the impressive effect of seeing a painting in person has to do with seeing it from multiple angles and being able to change how the light bounces into your eyes by moving around. So while a raking light photo still isn't as good as seeing something in person and doesn't suit every painting, it can add an interesting dimension to an otherwise flat image.

Emily by Rob Rey -
Oil, 14 x 18 inches