Reality captured in chiaroscuro

Photography is an art that captures at once both the physical dimensions of reality and the abstract awareness of the senses. But capturing photos too is no less concentrated an effort that depends on the nuances of many of its determining factors. Be it physical requirements of the equipment and setup as well as the accurate perceiving of them in how they influence and impact both the process and the output of photography, this is perhaps one of the more ‘demanding’ artistic explorations devised in exerting and appeasing the extensive faculty of the creative sciences.

Photography is in part a derived art, one that heavily draws upon the arena of painting to spin its own tale of imitated reality. No wonder then many of the techniques that have been making art emerge as realistic depictions of the world are free reigners as well in purposes of photographing. Particularly evident are the many impressions that photography has derived would be those pertaining to the fore of light. Indeed as an art form that literally translates as ‘drawing with light’, this dual dynamism is crucial for photography to shine through as a medium that not just captures reality but also conveniently conjures a reality of its own.

light dark photography
Source: LevelUp Learning

Light being of prime importance in this digitalised art of ‘drawing’, photographic techniques rely on a wide range of illuminating tips and tricks. In fact so incredibly significant is the element of light in photography that a single capture can deliver diverse images depending on the adjustments of the glows and the flashes and the shadows. From dramatic to defined, through subtle and striking, photographs speak perhaps the most comprehensive language when it comes to artistic expressions.

Out of the many lighting possibilities that photography muses upon to explore the fantastical edges of reality, there are some certain identities that primarily stand out. Contrejour is one such technique that however is more prominent in photos than it is in paintings. But the other striking concept of chiaroscuro that originates with art being the referential point once again retains its ‘ethnic’ character in greater assertions. That however does not undermine the glorious fore of chiaroscuro photography, revealing instead in even more depth the genius of its conceptualisation and effecting.

The strikingness of what chiaroscuro photography relays is but an extension of the character of the technique itself. A coming together of the Italian words for clear and obscure, respectively chiaro and oscuro, the term is self explanatory in what it lends itself to. It is in this bringing together of exact opposites that chiaroscuro attains that image of being an art in producing high contrast images. So palpable is the stark differences between the lighter and darker shades of the picture that the employment of this technique is a sure shot way in ensuring that the object of attention ends up being exactly the subject of what you had intended the photograph to speak through.

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But of course, there’s a catch and a very obvious one at that: of the technique being only as effective as allowed for by the scope of its employment. The intensity of the extreme contrasts produced can make for exaggerations that might render the entire photograph an unconvincing air. Which is why it is essential to understand first the essence of chiaroscuro and how it can be conducive to clicking such pictures that are real in what they depict despite the immense attention to their artistic detailing.

The interplay of the lights and darks is crucial for chiaroscuro to create an effect of drama that instantly elevates whatever it is worked upon. And yet for all its specificness of the contrasts dominating the narrative, the technique need not be exclusive to only one style of photography or the other. From the more explored nuances of landscape photography to the as adaptable requirements of other genres, in color photos as well as in black and white stills, chiaroscuro can be key to enhancing every snap regardless of the forte you hold in this technical space of the visual art.

Source: Photography Life

Chiaroscuro becomes easier to understand and therefore apply when one considers it exclusively in the context of photography. It might strike as tricky at first for novices still trying to come to terms with the photographic jargon. But in emphasising the basics of a low key lighting setup together with a high contrast lighting, the technique can be made more comprehensible. What makes chiaroscuro also exciting a prospect to explore in photographing goes beyond the aesthetics of that conjuring. The close- read exclusive- attention to the whole light- dark character of these photographs evokes also a certain mood that can differ in its interpretation depending upon the premise of such introduction.

Due to a stark differentiation of the lights and the shadows, chiaroscuro photos always boast in bearing the traits of depth and character. In displaying a voluminous view of images still in the standard 2D assertion, the effect produced tends to be one of more 3D visage and hence of realer prominence. This is largely due to the high contrast mannerism that the technique swears by as its guiding light, so much so that it lends itself to and derives as well from a specific lighting identity as well.

In the Rembrandt manner of lighting devised through the works of prolific Dutch painter Rembrandt whose exploits of the chiaroscuro technique are another definer of his creations, the interplay of lights and shadows are very prominent in their impactful show. Rembrandt lighting though isn’t the sole nature of occurring for chiaroscuro photography and the artistic brilliance of it can be a gain through its skillfully deployment also along other trails of working.

Source: Head On Photo Festival

No matter the route and mannerism of its occurring, chiaroscuro photos stir an enigma through their essential character. The intensity that manifests in every work of this identity means that images harbour a certain sense of mystery, of intrigue that is specific as well in the kind of beauty encompassed. The aesthetics of chiaroscuro photography is a different dimension altogether in which a medley of influences work to churn out images that shine in a tone of their own. Even in their simplest expressions, chiaroscuro photos would stun due to their highlighted, sculpted lines essentially brought about through the strong contrast. Chiaroscuro then might come across as immensely technical but it does not really need to, at least as far as the equipment and setting involved is concerned.

Immense indeed is the kind of attention that the technique demands in its using to create a definite image since serendipitous elements might not guarantee the kind of drama that a real chiaroscuro does. The drama is as palpable in its occurring as an emotion as it is as an aesthetic making then this style one of the more ‘informed’ within the photographic exploration. And yet, even in its seemingly complex intentions availed only through a definite sense of awareness and therefore likely perceived in a more deliberative notion of photography itself as an art and not so much as a pursuit of the more worldly associations, the specifics of it has been a particular trend across an unexpected genre of photographic interests.

Source: Two Loves Studio

Food photography might not seem like quite the ideal consideration for the intenses of chiaroscuro to be evoked. But the moody aspirations of the technique have been rather impressive in aestheticising also the appetising allays in similar representativeness. In fact one look at images produced through this style and you would be convinced indeed of the brilliance of this dramatic range. The base principle of the light vs dark juxtaposition is what obviously holds the key and perfecting the setup itself is key to achieving the desired results whether it is in curating food or anything else.

A significant proportion of chiaroscuroed success depends on the kind of light one works with or rather how efficiently it fits into the ‘masking’ attribute to strike just the right balance between the clear and the obscure. Pertinent also would be aspects of background and color composition as would be the vision through which the script comes to encompass a different life image than what it ordinarily resides in. In the contouring reaches of this photography technique then rests a power that one can artfully manipulate to yield images that emerge as masterpieces of a painted reality.