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Art, Plein Air, and Cameras

joel reinke - Friday, March 19, 2010
So I went out and did some Plein Air painting about a week ago and realized some things.
(Plein Air is painting outside in a rather quick manner to capture the light as it is)

I was at Green Lake (Seattle) and had a great time - though I got a bit sunburnt.  It was a nice day. 
NOTE: Painted in Acrylic on Watercolor Paper.

It is nice to get out there and paint rather than working from a photo because the photo has limits.  You can't turn your head a bit and see what's going on around you in a photo.  With plein air you can really pull in the whole environment and work in things that wouldn't fit into a photo and it doesn't look all warped. 

Next, you can be selective, in fact you have to.  Some of the crud that ruins a photo you can just leave out.  This will focus the painting on what you want and creates a great final scene.  Now I'm also getting really into photography so I also really like to work on framing up a shot just right, but that's a different story.

Plein Air is also nice because you can loosen up a bit and go free on the canvas.  More impressionistic.  Relax. :)

OK, so the point that ties into photography is this:

If you are an artist and want to take photos to paint from you need to do this:
Get an ultra-wide lens.
This is a multimedia lesson, coming from someone who is exploring a range of different mediums.
Why do you want an ultra-wide lens?
Because one of the biggest take aways I had from doing Plein Air is that a big benefit is having the ability to look around and see the big picture.

If you don't have the luxury of doing this, then an ultrawide lens is a must.  It is a lens for an SLR or digital SLR camera that allows you to "zoom way out" and take in everything around you.  Then you can use this as reference for your painting.  I still recommend just going outside and doing Plein Air.  It will probably be less expensive and its a different experience.  But working with an Ultra-Wide lens, compared to other lenses (like a telephoto) feels very artistic because you really want to work to find a nice spot where everything is just right and then work with the manual settings to get different effects.  Also, an ultra-wide is great for creating photos with interest because you can create a scene with a striking foreground subject, a mid-ground, and a sprawlingly broad background - all in one photo!

Summary:
-Get outside to live art
-Utilize Ultra-wide Lenses for great photos

-Joel Reinke