Having suggested sketching in the field may be more desirable, there is definitely a place to keep a series of photos of the details of some aspects. Here digital photography is a real winner because there is little cost in taking many photos, to assist as an “aide-mémorie” the downside for anyone artistic is probably managing all these reference images. Hopefully I’ll write more about this later.
A really important aspect not to forget when collecting reference photos is to remember to document your work. Photos of your work in situ (as the photo above) or you creating the art work may become very important in proving the provenance of your work.Our eyes actually see differently to a camera lens. We have a much greater dynamic range of tones and colours we can perceive that even the most expensive cameras. Most of us have a much broader field of view than typical camera lenses. Whilst a wide angle can do this seeing around corners trick it usually distorted the image and verticals tend to become curved at the edge of the image. This is really most obvious in the traditional “landscape” view. You will never see curved verticals in an “old master” landscape. Perhaps this may relate to a slavish following of the rules of perspective and vanishing points. However a photo does the reduction of three dimensional space onto a flat two dimensional plan automatically. This is a nice way to avoid having to tackle the very technical perspective methods. A neat way around this is to employing David Hockney's solution of “joiners”, A series of conventional photos taken at slightly different orientations can be placed side by side to form a collage. If you step back the “perspective” is closer to what you see when you are there looking at the scene.My view is that digital photography is a perfect tool to help an artist learn to better interpret the visual world. It is not a substitute for seeing but it is certainly an aide to making better and lasting observations. These are only just a few important issues for any artist and I plan to cover more in upcoming post.