Friday, April 27, 2007

Monet in Cleveland

If you haven't made it over to the Cleveland Museum of Art for the Monet in Normandy exhibit you only have a few weeks left. It is fantastic! My wife, Mary, and I finally made it there tonight and walked through the exhibit several times.

For photographers, studying painting is useful because of what you can learn about composition. The great painters did wonderful things with structure, depth-of-field, and lighting that will help any photographer. Take for example Monet's Garden at Sainte-Adresse. Note the high horizon line and depth-of-field. A photographer would take this image using a wide angle lens, perhaps a 24mm, in order to capture the subjects in foreground, but with a smaller aperture, to make sure the ships in the background are in focus. The high horizon line helps lead the viewer from the people in the foreground to the ships in the background.

Another example is La Chapelle de Notre-Dame de Grâce, Honfleur. Instead of plunking the chapel in the middle of the image, Monet leads the viewer to and from the chapel with the road which protrudes diagonally from the corner and from the gentle slope of the tree line.

Not all skies need to be blue with white, fluffy clouds as Monet shows with The Pointe de la Hève at Low Tide. Here the sky forms the mood for the image. Monet does this in many of his works, using the sky solely as an instrument to set the mood, whether it be grey for drab moods, turbulent for storminess, or bright for joyous moments.

The images I linked from the Museum of Art Web site are not anywhere near the quality of what's at the exhibit. I urge you to see the exhibit in person before it's too late.

Copyright 2007 James D. Fisher
All rights reserved.


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