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A value/light/color study of a city at night.

nightscape taxi bw nightscape taxi

Reference from here 

ticket 8

This one was about Color and Light. More precisely I read and took notes from one chapter of J.Gurney’s book. This part is about different sources of light.

Direct Sunlight

In direct sunlight there are 3 different sources of light: sun, the blue sky and reflected light from illuminated objects.

You can think of the skylight as a soft light, coming from many directions.

The higher the altitudes and the clearer the air, the sky will be more blue-violet and shadows darker and bluer relative to sun.

As more clouds show up, shadows become grayer. The more haze or smog shows up, shadows are tonally closer to the value of the sunlight.

The color of the ground and nearby objects reflects into the shadow areas.

Overcast Light

-soft illumination (because clouds diffuse sunlight)

-this eliminates dramatic contrasts of light and shadow

-ideal for complicated scenes

-colors appear brighter and purer than in sunlight

-it is easier to show patterns of costumes

-the sky is usually the lightest note

-light comes evenly and equally from above

-good for photographs cause you expose a scene evenly

Window Light

-soft light

-if the sun is not shining directly through, the light is bluish

-you can get nice contrasts together with another source of artificial light inside (cool-orange for example)

-on a sunny day light shines on the ground and bounces up through the window and on the ceiling

-depending on colour of the ground, you can see orange or green on a white ceiling

Candlelight and Firelight


-weak, drops off rapidly

-no deep darks next to the light source, but glowy appearance and many soft edges

-it is a point light (think starburst shape).At twice the distance, the light is only 1/4 as bright. At 3 times the distance, it drops to 1/9 as bright.

Indoor Electric Light

It has 3 qualities: relative brightness, hardness/softness, color cast

The brightness depends on wattage, lamp type, how close the subjects are, how bright the other lights are

Hard light comes from sharp, small points like spotlight or sun. It is more directional, more dramatic, casts crisper shadows, brings out more surface texture and highlights

Soft light comes from a wider area (ex:large panel of fluorescent tubes over a workbench). It is more flattering and reassuring. It is better for task lighting because there are weaker cast shadows. The tonal transitions are more gradual.

The color cast depends on the dominant wavelength. The regular incandescent tends to be strong in orange and red and weak in blue.

Standard warm white and cool white fluorescent light emphasizes yellow-green.

Streetlight and Night Conditions

-blue-green moonlight can contrast nicely with warm lights in shops and streetlights

-gas light is weak

-modern light: incandescent, fluorescent, neon, mercury vapor (cool, drains flesh color), sodium vapor (sickly, warm, narrow wavelength), led lights


bioluminescence- light from usually ocean creatures, mushrooms, insects. It is usually cool, blue-green and the colors gradate from one hue to another.

Best to paint the scene in dark tones and add glows at the end.

fluorescence- light produced by an object that converts invisible light (amber, calcite)

Hidden Light Sources

Light can come from outside the picture, inside the picture or it can be concealed but inside the picture. The hidden one is more intriguing. Can also be used for silhouettes, pools of colored light, emphasis.