Shooting Like a Renaissance Painter

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Arcanum Update

I’ve now an apprentice in Glenn Guy‘s Landscape Luminaires Cohort for Sphere 2.  This is not a snapshot club, but a serious group of photographers with great talent and experience in all genres yet focused on Landscape.  I will be challenged to shoot par with this cohort.   Glenn is an Australian living in Brisbane with years of teaching experience, world photography stories and at a level of intensity unmatched within The Arcanum.   I’m a lucky guy.

Photographic Society of Madras

I’m at the monthly PSM meeting now getting a head start on this post as we share, critique images at the start ahead of our guest speaker, Mr. Parthiban T.  Hope we’ll have a B&W and/or a Print workshop soon.  I’m learning so much now need the time to apply.

Disclaimer:  I'm a novice seeking the path towards Fine Art Photography.  If I've misspoken then let me know yet I believe I've captured the essence of the Rules of the Road in taking me forward.

Now onto the subject of this post, i.e. Mr. Parthiban T. gave a thought provoking talk on the Renaissance Period (c1400-1700s) as the birth of “Perspective Art” plus the emergence of naturalism and realism to give use Renaissance Art.   The Renaissance painters lead the way for photography as we know it today with the what and how behind the artistry of the craft.  Let me explain.

Shooting Like a Renaissance Painter

by Mr. Parthiban T. (Thank you for sharing)

One must strive to capture in-camera the essence of composition as taught by the Renaissance painters.   (Of course a little crop here or there never hurt.)

Elements of Composition: Lines, Symmetry, DOF, Color, Shape, Tone and Texture

Principles of Composition: Directional Emphasis, Placement, Space, Balance and Unity

Arcanum S1-C19-10


In this IR B&W image in the muddy rice paddies calf-deep in the mud, I’ve captured various Elements of Composition from the use of horizontal / diagonal lines, texture of the rice, curves of his body, a feeling of space with a defined foreground, midground and background having a defined tonal range of dark to light.

It’s a start, more to learn and apply.


We can apply the Renaissance Techniques to Photography by giving a Sense of Direction, Leading the Eye, Light Play, Balancing and Dynamic Tension.

Sense of Depth

You can add perspective in your image with a horizon line to limit the view, having elevation in the frame, separating the plane with a defined foreground, mid-ground and background, placing tonal differences of light to dark with elevated contrast and adding color. Wow- many options to consider and visualize the end image.

An image can appear deeper with converging lines (leading lines) from both sides that extents to a vanishing point. As a rule of thumb one can use these focal lengths for creating a Sense of Depth: Aerial Perspective 300mm-100mm, Linear Perspective 100mm to 18mm and Vanishing Point 300mm-10mm.

Leading the Eye

Alfred Yarbu (c1967) with his work on Eye Movement and Vision relates to photography relative to the Viewers perspective as follows:

The Viewer’s attention is usually highlighted by only certain elements in the picture.

The Viewer’s focuses his attention on  unusual, unfamiliar elements with his eye movement reflecting the human thought process.

The Viewer’s eye always returns to the same elements in the photo irrespective of the points of fixation.

Use of Dynamic Lines

Horizontal Lines give a sense of stability, calm, restfulness, and peace

Vertical Lines shows power, strength and growth

Diagonal Lines leads the eye and creates visual tension

Curves adds beauty and grace and a natural free flowing sense

In Summary

The Renaissance painters have provided us with the means to draw in the viewer and hold his/her attention.

Leonardo DaVinci: Golden Ratio and Diffused Lighting (⇓)LDVMichelangelo: Tonal Values (HDR-Like) and Forms (⇓)Mic1

Raphael: Perspectives and Visual Tension (⇓)RalRembrandt: Lighting of Portraits (⇓)Rem1Caravaggio: Low Key and Visual Dynamics (⇓)Cav1Lorraine: Tonal Separation and Perspective (⇓)Lor

Fine Art Photography

This is the direction, which I strive for. When the Elements and Principles of Composition are utilized to their fullest, we begin to reach a Fine Art Photography level that few in the profession have fully obtained.

Notable Fine Art Photographers

Tips as Photographers in Reaching a Fine Art Level