Light in its many Shades

We all know that we can't live without light: but do we take much notice of it?

Yes we do, when the sun is setting. When the light is leaving us for the day.

These two amazing sunsets were taken by our Jane who has captured the brilliance of the setting sun and the reflection of the light on the calm waters.

Notice that the impact of the light in both these images is enhanced by the absence of clouds.

In contrast, the light in the two photographs below, is enhanced by the clouds. We all love the light reflecting from a setting sun on a bank of clouds: we are mesmerised by the changing colours.

Again we thank Jane for her photography.

If you are a painter, an understanding of light is very important to your trade. And if you enjoy looking at paintings you will gain more if you understand more about light.

Study the bands of colour carefully in the photograph below and have a go at reproducing it. Notice how the light is reflected in the water. First look at the underlying colour of the sky and paint that followed by the clouds.

If you are not a painter, just take a moment to study the image and then shut your eyes and see if you can reproduce in your mind the colours, the shapes, the textures created by the fading light of the sun.

As we know our Sun is a bit of a showoff. Our Moon by contrast is more magical.

We humans have always been fascinated by our Moon and the light it emits across the Earth. One of the first pictures ever taken of the moon was achieved by Dr J.W.Draper of New York in 1840. I think this is an amazing image.

J.W.Draper's photograph of the moon, 1840 (

These photos below of the Moon were taken much more recently from the cockpit of an A330 by one of the blog subscribers K in Hong Kong who is a pilot.

Let us conclude today by looking at some paintings of moonlight and sunlight.

The first pair were created by British painter Edward Williams (1781-1855).

Robert Salmon (1775 – c. 1845) was a maritime artist, active in both England and America, who knew how to exploit the sun and moon light on the sea, ships and wharfside buildings.

Isn't the delicate touch of the moonlight on the tips of the clouds and waves just wonderful? And in contrast, the blaze of sunlight on the wharf is so engaging.

And I want to conclude by introducing you to the artist Stefan Mierz who lives in Rockport, Massachusetts. Mierz paints what could be termed imaginative landscapes and I am drawn to them because of the interesting ways he plays with the light: in the first example the light is coming from the moon.

Mierz creates in oil and mixed media including old paint tubes as shown in Moonrise Dream.

Moonrise Dream by Stefan Mierz (

Cool Sunset is interesting as sunsets tend to be warm, even hot. But here the light from the disappearing sun, at least from the artist's perceptive, is cool.

Cool Sunset by Stefan Mierz (

But in my opinion the sunlight is even cooler in View from the Gallery (below).

View from the Gallery by Stefan Mierz (

If you would like to see more paintings by Stefan Mierz please click here.

I will leave you today with a Mierz painting in an impressionistic style with the light of the moon playing across the water.

Moonlight Over Thacher Island by Stefan Mierz (

There is a lot more to say about light and I am sure we will return again and again to explore how light affects our perception of a scene.