Pre-class Library Session – Working With Light

Above is a Painting by Caravaggio. A 16th century renaissance painter, his work was heavily influenced by relgion.

What kind of light is the artist using

It’s difficult to say what type of set up the artist used for this particular painting as it’s unknown whether the events we are seeing are actually true or have been painted directly from the artists imagination.
Either way, the lighting is made to look like it is natural day light, the warm tones of the light suggest this is a product of the Golden Hour.
The subjects are positioned close to the window causing the light to cast over the majority of faces around the table, highlighting the faces but also casting soft aesthetic shadows across the location.
You can tell it is natural light not only because you can tell it’s coming from a high window but also because the light is soft causing soft shadows and detail and of course no artificial light was around in the age of this painting.

Concept/motivation for using this kind of lighting

The warm tones of the light really suggest to me that this is golden hour, the last hour before the sun sets.
I think this has some sort of religious meaning, but it also gives me a feeling that whatever is outside is positive. As this is a religious painting then you start to think that a religious figure is outside shining light into the room, strong light.
The light creates a positive mood, maybe something is coming to an end (golden hour is the last hour) or something is coming to save us?.

Does it work?

Yes it does, It’s interesting that when I look at this image, I am not only thinking about the elements inside the frame, but also what is outside. Partly because the figures and scene in the image do not complete the full story for us and the light is a big factor of this image and in turn, feels like a big part of the narrative.
We start to wonder what is outside, what is causing this light (like the people in the image seem to be doing as well) and this makes whats outside the frame just as important as what we see.


I would really like to experiment more with natural light and ways i can control it.
This image really inspires me to think of light more as another element to the image. Lighting can completely change the meaning of an image, it can create a mood which inflicts emotions over the viewer. It’s a powerful asset to a image and I would like experiment with this more.
In the painting above, the light source adds another meaning and narrative to the image which is making it a very important component, without this part the meaning of the image would be lost.
As well as this technique, i would also like to use The Golden Hour light as well. It creates such warm beautiful light and i think this is a useful tool that i could use to create a particular feeling in a photograph.


One thought on “Pre-class Library Session – Working With Light

  1. Pingback: Portrait Task – Research and initial ideas | Alice Riddy

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