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Old 05-31-2009, 12:17 AM
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Reflections vs. shadows

Advise please! Just completed my first painting of a river & am having trouble wrapping my brain around reflections vs. shadows. Seems to me that shadows, of course, are created by an object blocking the light and fall away from the light source. Reflections, on the other hand, are created by light bouncing off an object back toward the light source & should be on the side the light is coming from. I have searched everywhere for info on this & found nada. I see work with reflections over, under, around and through. My head is going to explode.......... Set me straight!
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Old 05-31-2009, 04:27 AM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Hi Mudfish ...... hopefully some of our experts can advise you but in the meantime I found this thread on Water and Reflections which may be of use to you ... I think I will go read it myself .....
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Old 05-31-2009, 06:06 AM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

I paint water and reflections a lot! I love painting water.

Basically just look at what is there and switch the left brain off - trust your instinctive right brain and just put down the patches of colour and tone that you see, not what you think should be there

Constantly consider - is the reflection darker or lighter, warmer or cooler in this part than the object it's reflecting and the colours around it.

Working plein air you are seeing movement and the image is less static than a photograph, which freezes time. Sometimes the images can be too sharp, depending on your style of work - for photorealists this is ideal, for more impressionist painters it isn't and may need softening. Working from life is the perfect way to understand reflections - even if it's just a puddle
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Old 05-31-2009, 06:18 AM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

lots of good photos to study in anne's thread.

the quick answer to your question is that reflections follow a line of sight between the object and the point of view. that is the center of the picture plane in a photograph, but a painter (or draftsman) may elect to offset the point of view. regardless, the reflections will all converge on the viewpoint.

here's a fun page:

http://www.hsc.csu.edu.au/ind_tech/w...eflections.htm
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Old 05-31-2009, 06:52 AM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

accurate representation of reflections requires facility with perspective in general. good site (click on the numbered blocks):

http://www.artyfactory.com/perspecti...tive_index.htm
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Old 05-31-2009, 11:30 AM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

As Randall said, reflections are always in the line of sight between the object and the observer. Reflections also contain the original hues of the object being reflected (greens of trees, browns of rocks, blue of sky etc) with usually a value and chroma variation. If the light source is bright, then the reflection is usually darker than the object being reflected. If the light source is not bright, eg a cloudy or overcast day, the reflection can be lighter than the object being reflected.

The direction of shadows is dictated by the direction of the light source, and is independent of the position of the observer. Shadows are low values of the local colour, i.e. the colour of the object the shadow is falling on. The colour of the object casting the shadow plays no part in the colour, except where there is some degree of light bounce from the back, in which case some of the original object's colour can influence the shadow. Shadow edges are hardest closest to the casting object, and get more diffuse with distance from the object. Values are also darkest closest to the object, and increase with distance.

The best thing to do is go and observe both from life in different light situations. You will soon see how they both behave.
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Old 05-31-2009, 12:45 PM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Great websites, Anne & Randall. Were there more classes that are available from Kat's lessons? So what I'm taking away so far is that the light source has no influence on where reflections appear? They should just be placed on line between the object and the vp? My confusion is fueled by the photo I'm working from, which has the sun at a high 7 o'clock position and shows absolutely no reflections despite humongous pines right next to the water in the foreground (out of frame), middle and background. So I'm just trying to figure out how reflections are determined.

Last edited by mudfish : 05-31-2009 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 05-31-2009, 01:44 PM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Reflections are determined by height. You measure from the line where the oject and water meet to whatever height on the object, and the same height can be drawn on the water. It's a good general rule. For far away objects it can be a bit trickier since sometimes the water ends before it meets the base of the object, so just use a horizon line in that case. Shadows on the other hand do depend on lighting, and fall on the same line that is created by the light source and object blocking the light. It's true that the best thing is jsut to study paintings, pictures, or things you see. The next best thing is to make something, take a picture, and upload it to wetcanvas and ask for help. Some forums you'll get lots of help, and others like landscapes generally move too fast for anyone to notice your post if it's help you want.
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Old 05-31-2009, 03:35 PM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Well I thank you all for your time. I tried to upload the photo and my painting but despite the fact that computer said both were less than 800 pixels it refused to load them. What I want to do here is put reflections in a picture where there are none, so I'm trying to figure out what else I have to change ie shadows etc. to make it right. Since there are no reflections in that photo, I'm assuming I have to move the light source, but maybe not? How in Hades can you have a 100 ft pine tree 2ft from the water and not have any reflection? I'm still boggled.
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Old 05-31-2009, 05:21 PM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfish
Well I thank you all for your time. I tried to upload the photo and my painting but despite the fact that computer said both were less than 800 pixels it refused to load them. What I want to do here is put reflections in a picture where there are none, so I'm trying to figure out what else I have to change ie shadows etc. to make it right. Since there are no reflections in that photo, I'm assuming I have to move the light source, but maybe not? How in Hades can you have a 100 ft pine tree 2ft from the water and not have any reflection? I'm still boggled.

Probably the water is ruffled.

Trees only reflected where water is calm. Don't let the snow confuse you.



If I'm right about what your photo looks like, you DON'T need to move the light source. But also see this



As to why, when the water is ruffled, what you mostly see is the parts of waves which are angled towards you, and they reflect from higher up than a flat surface would, so you get sky colour refelected.



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Old 05-31-2009, 07:55 PM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Sounds like the trees might be so tall that they are reflected, but you can't tell since all the reflected color is on the water from them being so close, that there are no unreflected areas of color to judge against. The image uploader never works for me at the last step of inserting the image, you might try attaching it to your post instead.
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:32 AM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

I know... a very old post thread, but very helpful. Started painting a year ago and there is so much to learn !! I was/am struggling with a painting with tree branches overhanging a body of water with tall grass on the banks. Couldn't figure out why things did not look right until, while trying to go to sleep, I started to realize that I am/was getting "confused" by the reflections and shadows of the objects. I think I know how to "attack" the problem and am excited to work on it after work...
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:59 AM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyPaints
I know... a very old post thread, but very helpful. Started painting a year ago and there is so much to learn !! I was/am struggling with a painting with tree branches overhanging a body of water with tall grass on the banks. Couldn't figure out why things did not look right until, while trying to go to sleep, I started to realize that I am/was getting "confused" by the reflections and shadows of the objects. I think I know how to "attack" the problem and am excited to work on it after work...

Looking forward to seeing the results!

Thomas
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:47 PM
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Re: Reflections vs. shadows

Mark Carder is an advocate of "...paint what you see, not what you think you see". He did an interesting video on painting water a few months ago.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YUrFrtwCRhs

Of the many videos available, I found his the most reasonable and realistic. I'm a believer that most paintings have too-much chroma and not enough value contrasts, Mr. Carder seems to strike a good balance here.

I also like the approach of Dusan Malobabic to painting water, he's an Australian artist who has a very facile palette knife technique. In the past I typically dismissed knife painting, but Dusan Malobabic made me reconsider especially for marinescapes. And his urban scenes are a revelation utilizing the knife for the strong rectilinear forms of the built landscape.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCTen3...SuMEdNw/videos
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Last edited by Ted Bunker : 02-11-2020 at 08:03 PM.
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