An observation about light- am I correct?
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  1. #1
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    An observation about light- am I correct?

    I recently moved to a beautiful area near the beach with tons of large trees everywhere. I was going for a walk with somebody during the daytime and I noticed that there was really no blue/purple in the cast shadows from the trees/houses/etc.

    If I am correct, most shadows during daylight outside have a blueish color to them because the blue skylight everywhere is "filling" them in. So my theory is that because there is so much canopy in the area, the shadows instead get filled with more of a greenish color from all of the leaves and plants. It also got me thinking that in pictures/videos of rain forest, with very dense canopies, you never really notice a lot of blue/purple in the shadows, similar to the area around me now.

    Am I somewhat correct?

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    Ding ding ding! Winner!

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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    Correct! Its fascinating some of the colours that get bounced into shadows on sunny days.I love playing with them.

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    hehe. I remember someone trying to tell me I was wrong about shadows. Apparently he had been told that they were always blue.



    We need more threads like this

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    Here's an question I wrote to the late Keith parkinson:
    warm/cool colors You say that shadow color is based on sky color... If you have a warm light are you taking the same color and just cooling it down slightly by adding a cooler color, just very modestly changing the color slightly cooler? I guess the real question is, what's the point of using the concept for warmer and cooler colors?

    It helps create depth? It helps in terms of realism, but how?

    Keith Parkinson
    Administrator
    (9/27/04 7:26 pm)
    Reply color, color, who got the color...

    I don't think you have it quite right. Shadow color IS based on sky color outside, regardless of what is warm and what is cool. Usually the sky is cool so the use of warm light and cool shadows usually works.

    Look at it this way though, without reflected light and ambient "sky" light all shadows of the sun would be pitch black. What you actually see in the shadow is, first any reflected light from the primary light source, which is usually the sun outside but not always, then the light that the sky emits. Since the sky's light is not directional, other than vertically, it fills in the shadows and tints them with its color--whatever it is, cool or warm.

    So, the light or sun color, theoretically, has nothing to do with the shadow color. In practice though, the sky and the sun do relate because the sun color does affect the sky color.

    Now, when in comes to showing distance, the light and the shadow colors or "chroma" ranges do grow closer together and the value, or the contrast between the two lessen. How much depends on how much "air" the viewer sees. The more haze the faster that happens.

    Hope this helps.

    --KP
    Also, I noticed that when you have less light, there's less color in the shadow. For example: Indoors, most houses and buildings have far less illuminating lights than natural light, so the shadows appear more grey.

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    Don't listen to what people tell you. Trust your own eyes.

    There are almost no "absolutes" when it comes to color and light.
    Hell, we can't even see all of them!

    (Rant): I never understand why so many people on these fourms get caught up in "rules" or "laws" when it comes to art. Everything is just a guideline or starting point. People shouldn't "think" so much. Intead they should spend more time observing or at least experimenting.

    In other words: Learn to use your eyes more than your head.

    "If one advances confidently in the direction of
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    has imagined, he will meet with a success
    unexpected in common hours."
    - H.D. Thoreau
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    It's a complicated issue.

    According to physics, shadows do not have color because they are an absence of light. However, there is an optical color effect that happens- on a uniformly colored surface, parts in shadow will have "less" of the light color, and thus appear to take on the color of the complement of the light to some degree. This effect is often difficult to see, particularly when the color of the light is close to neutral- but light is never a perfectly neutral white so the effect is always there to some degree. If you want to see the effect for sure, look at the shadows towards the end of the day when sunlight is more obviously orange, or put in a red or green light bulb.

    The color of the sky (or the environment) actually affects the color of everything- not just the shadows- but within that there will still be a warm/cool relationship between the light and shadow areas.

    The "rule" in painting: warm light, cool shadows or vice versa. Of course there are lots of exceptions to this, but in general it holds true so it's a good thing to watch for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by otis View Post
    (Rant): I never understand why so many people on these fourms get caught up in "rules" or "laws" when it comes to art.


    Kramer: A rule is a rule. And let's face it. Without rules there's chaos.

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    Hey thanks guys. I was trusting my eyes because I know what I saw, but just trying to figure out the reasoning behind this absence.

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    This is not an uncommon thought process. Recently while reading N.C Wyeths letters he comments (around the year 1909 by his dates) about how he has come to the belief that rules while handy (and I am not talking about the foundations here) indeed hold one back sometimes. He had allways made shadows blueish and was working on changing that becuase they are not allways blue and to be true to nature one has to put down what he\she sees.

    Recently I have been finding myself always asking (sometimes outloud) "how would\should I paint that" or "what am I really looking at?" It is easy to go into auto pilot mode and rely on what has worked in the past or do what others have told you is a sure thing. However, by asking those questions it keeps me in the critical observation mode and helps me make smart choices and prevent some bad moves on my part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    it's not an art rule.. it's physics... light bounces around... everything you see is light.. you don't see shadows.. you see light
    Yup.

    Be a human ray-tracer. Identify each light-source and figure out what the light from that source is doing. I.E. the sun is lighting the tree and the house. It is also lighting the pavement, which is reflecting light back up on the underside of the carport and tree. The sun is also lighting the sky. In the sky, the light is becoming a dim blue glow, which fills in surfaces which are blocked from direct sunlight, such as the shadow cast by the building and tree.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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    Also, don't forget chromatic adaptation. It's the other thing that affects color perception, after the physics of light. Our eyes (and cameras if correctly set, but much less effectively as our eyes, and then it's called white balance) tend to compensate for too strong dominance of specific hues. Which will even the dominant hue to a more neutral tone, by adding a filter of the opposite color on top of your vision. That's why when you quit a room with a very intense blue light, everything will feel orangish.

    This effect makes objects or light sources of the opposite hue of the dominant light much more saturated, and I think it's a basis to the warm light/cool shadow (or opposite) rule. It's a common optical illusion ,and knowing how to use those optical illusions is quite important in color representation in art, I think.

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    m@.- how would that effect one's artwork? that seems more of a novelty than anything.

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    I think in practice it means that normally considered mute, dull colors will look vivid and bright and saturated when placed near its complimentary color, an opposite on color wheel on canvas (warms placed against cool colors on the wheel). Sky is cool color comparing to sun which is warm.

    I read one more interesting thing... reflections in water tend to be warmer than the object they reflect and the reflection have smaller number of values. And light objects look darker in their water reflection,,, dark objects on the opposite look lighter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lohan View Post
    m@.- how would that effect one's artwork? that seems more of a novelty than anything.
    umm trust him on this... he's one of the best at color on this forum... its simple color theory really.. you've heard of complementary colors right? thats that theory in action in real life...

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    In other words: Learn to use your eyes more than your head.
    Unless you got color vision deficiency, then you get laughed at haha.

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