Chiaroscuro

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aerial photograph of Purnululu National Park, Kimberley

For so many years I have been editing my images to create dramatic lighting effects not really knowing I was using a technique known as Chiaroscuro.  So what does this strange word mean?

Basically it is the use of strong contrasts between Light and dark tones.  If it relates to photography you would call an image that is low key tonally Chiaroscuro.  I have always been a fan of Renaissance art with artists such as Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Caravaggio being favourites.  Looking at their paintings I have always admired the way they have captured the light.  

This image shot from the air over Purnululu National Park displays this perfectly.  It was shot on our way back to camp as the light was getting very low in the sky.  The top of the crest was the only thing receiving direct light, the rest of the scene disappearing into a dark vignette.  I do like this type of image.

When I was doing a painting course with a local artist, he would always say, "darker darks and lighter lights".  I think this is worth thinking about when creating new works.

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