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  • Writer's pictureEllen Fisch

The Art of Architectural Photography: Values

Values create space, perspective, interest and a dynamic among elements in a work. Values are the lights and darks and how these interact to establish the subject, whether it be representation or abstract. Few works of art are one-note in tone. Those that are iconic as "lacking" the interplay of shadow and highlight are unique in a way that few can replicate or build on. For most every other art form, values are a structural element that is indispensable in conveying ideas that will resonate with the viewer, or for that matter, the artist as creator.

All master artists are concerned with light. Even "black" paintings are constructed by light: leaving light out or placing light strategically to impact the work. One can tell where a work of art was produced by the nature of the light within the work. For example Spanish artists use a warm light, whereas Swedish values are often cool. Of course these are not hard and fast "art rules." Artists may use any lights and darks that appeal to them or that make the work an expression of the specific subject in an individual way.

There were a great many opportunities for me to study light and its effects on architecture when I traveled in India. The darks and lights in India are incredibly complex because of the brilliance of the sun, which produces dazzling lights and contrasting darks in an infinite variety. From the softest, mists of palest grays to the darkest shadows, the darks are manipulated and slammed into a visual experience like powerful thunderclaps by the brilliant lights. This juxtaposition of values intensifies the fascinating and magnificent architecture, evoking feelings of great mystery and echoing the mystical premise on which many temples and public buildings were shaped.

Black and White Architectural Photography: Khajuraho, India

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