07 March 2013

A computer cheat defeated

In my previous post Judy wrote that may be using a computer amounts to a "cheat". She is right to a certain extent. Vermeer  and Ingres didn't have Photoshop. However, they *did* use devices. Click on either painter's name  to see what they were up to.

But just as an example. The other day I visited the Huntington with my dear friend Molly Lipsher. While we were there, a painting caught my attention. I am not particularly fond of it, it's very nice and all but what attracted me to it was the subordination of the whole painting to one note of very saturated color. This is exactly the kind of thing a "garyscale map" in Photoshop might not resolve if taken from a photograph.

Here is the original "The Last Gleanings" by Jules Andre Breton.

And here is the Photoshop treatment of the painting as I explained in my posting before.  In the grayscale version you would never guess the prominence the red sun in the real painting. The chromatic saturation stands out more than the tonal value so while the whole painting hangs on that touch of red ,tonally speaking, it's not even an accent.

Ah, but that's not all there is. In the image bellow I used the "levels" adjustment in Photoshop to eliminate all the middle and low reds, basically leaving only the top saturated reds. Not surprisingly, the sun glows now  like a traffic light. Sold!


Judy P. said...

Hi Jose-thanks for your clear explanation. I've always been reluctant to use even the simple greyscale computer aids, afraid it would be a 'slippery slope' to overuse. But I see how it would help figure out values, and I can certainly use that help! So I will add it to my arsenal of learning, much obliged.

Anonymous said...

You could also just squint. It's like a built-in information reducer!

I love photoshop for the color-picker option. It is sometimes hard to separate out color/value against other colors/values, but you can sample the color and get a swatch separated out for a clue.