Thursday, February 28, 2013

You Would Even Say it Glows

New Fire and Ice by Thomas Mangelsen
New Fire and Ice by Thomas Mangelsen
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to take a look at the images at the Thomas Mangelsen Images of Nature gallery in Las Vegas. These images are not only visually stunning, they also seem to change with different light levels and the gallery exhibited some of them in a room with a dimmer to demonstrate this effect.


Most of the images in the gallery were printed on silver halide photo paper laminated to the back of a sheet of acrylic. This is a beautiful way to mount a photographic print, but most of the visual impact, including the interesting effect with the dimmer, was in the original photography. These images will exhibit similar characteristics when printed on high gloss metal or any other method which has crisp and vibrant color reproduction.


Cypress Sunset by Thomas Mangelsen
Cypress Sunset by Thomas Mangelsen
This style of photography draws characteristics from a group of American painters in the mid 1800s who painted landscapes and seascapes that were infused with light. These “luminist” painters created works that radiate light, whether from a window of a stone cottage or through shafts of sunlight penetrating through the clouds. This was was a favorite technique of the Hudson River School and was incorporated into western landscapes by Albert Bierstadt and others.

Between the Sierra Nevadas by Albert Bierstadt
Between the Sierra Nevadas by Albert Bierstadt
Luminism strongly influenced the popular “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade who called his use of light the “Kinkade Glow.” He has explained that his method for creating the glow relies on three visual aspects: “soft edges, a warm palette and an overall sense of light.” The effect is particular effective for Kinkade in suggesting romanticism and nostalgia with a sense of mystery.
 
The Beginning of a Perfect Day by Thomas Kinkade
The Beginning of a Perfect Day by Thomas Kinkade
To emulate the Luminist style, your image should contain saturated pastels, particularly the warmer shades of yellow and orange. The edges of the image can be darker so the eye is drawn to the main source of light and the reflections the light creates.

After becoming familiar with this style of painting and photography, I decided to dig through my own image archives looking for examples. I believe these images of a sunrise over the Indian Ocean, which my wife Terri captured last year in Mozambique, fit the description perfectly.

Indian Ocean Sunrise One by Terri Williams
Indian Ocean Sunrise One by Terri Williams
Indian Ocean Sunrise Two by Terri Williams
Indian Ocean Sunrise Two by Terri Williams
I had some of these printed by Black River Imaging on 16x20 metal and tested the effect with a light and dimmer in my dining room. The pictures really do change dramatically as the light level changes. 

Try it for yourself and see what you think!

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