LX7 Gallery

The windmills

The relationship between cool bluish light and the warm amber light was a device that Vermeer used sometimes to great effect. With strong saturated blue and bright punchy yellow these complimentary colours have a potency that works as well in a painting as it does in a photograph.

The landscape photographer often wishes to inject a sense of depth into an image and a technique to achieve this is to either stack highlights up against shadows. In the case of these windmills to introduce a large subject in the foreground allowing the recession to carry the eye from the front of the image to the end.

Royal Delftware Porcelaine

I have always been interested by the way in which shopkeepers decorate and design their windows of their shops as the design and artistry used must work hard to seduce the walking passer by quickly enough to encourage them to stop, turn and hopefully enter. This Royal Delft shopfront, not only made me stop but also demanded that I should make a photograph of it. The line of bright geraniums above the shop helps to make the shop look less like a museum and the warm light to the right breathes life into the shop to prevent the interior looking uninviting.

When photographing a fairly flat scene, I like to use the square format allowing a sense of things being equal. The warm dark amber colour of the door off sets the blue so well and it is amazing to think that these fine pots were being made at the same time that Vermeer was painting.

Girl in Library

To study any great painter will always provide the photographer with inspiration. In many of his single portraits, he has placed the light source at the left illuminating his subject’s right side of the face with the shadow side toward the viewer.

In addition he was the master at conveying human facial expression with his subjects eyes sometimes ‘boring’ into the eyes of the view as in the case of Girl with a Pearl Earring which so many of us know. I wanted to try hard to achieve the same wonderfully soft light with the model’s left cheekbone and nose shadow revealing the shape of the face. The whites of the model’s eyes are an integral part of this image just as they were for Vermeer’s painting.

Canal with Lilies

Continuing to study Vermeer, I have noticed that in many of his paintings there is to be found a rectangle either in the form of a another painting (he was an art dealer and liked to include other paintings in his work) or perhaps a map of Europe.

Whilst photographing within Delft I began to detect rectangular shapes and enjoyed discovering these blocks of colour, which seem to integrate well together. I liked the two green doors which fitted well with the two black windows which themselves had further multiple rectangles within them. The canal with the lilies worked well as a softening device perhaps and picked up the green values in the doors.

Girl playing violin in doorway

The painter has the luxury of being in the happy position of using contrast as and when they wish to. The photographer must always be acutely aware of the subject brightness range of the subject. I intended for the violinist to come ‘from nowhere’ and that her dark hair should blend with the background.

In Vermeer’s The Guitar Player, he has unusually lit his subject from the right hand side with her expression, again unusually looking out of the frame. An instrument appears in many of Vermeer’s paintings and, while I did not wish to even attempt to duplicate Vermeer’s work in a photograph, I allowed myself to be happily influenced by the idea of a photograph of a musician playing an instrument and do admit to encouraging my musician to reveal the same expression of very mild pleasure as Vermeer’s The Guitar Player did.

Delft General view across the harbour

Vermeer introduced a flat light to the front of his painting with a harder light toward the rear of the image. It is this lighting that confirms for me Vermeer’s photographer comparison where clearly this bright sunlight was delivered courtesy of clouds allowing sun to spotlight the tower.

The water in Vermeer’s painting overwhelms me in that it looks as water should; wet. In a few areas he has allowed a breath of wind to disrupt the reflections.

In my image, the light is of a completely different character and very little remains the same. The veil of pink light that hangs over the image delighted me and the Dutch barge to the right and being conveniently white, plays a pivotal role in the luminousness of that light which romanticises the photograph appropriately.