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A Beautiful Day Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

3 December 2013

It was just a spectacularly beautiful day here today -- and, as you know, we don't fling adjectives around lightly. The air was unusually clear, the sun low, the shadows deep, the color rich.

Golden Gate Bridge. Captured at f8.0, 1/1000 second and ISO 200 at 39mm on a 14-42mm m4/3 zoom lens. Tone mapped in Unified Color 32 Float.

We were at the Legion of Honor to take in the Anders Zorn exhibit. He began his career in watercolor but added oils and sculpture to his resume before he was done.

Each work was mesmerizing.

We were particularly amused by his brewery paintings, real industrial works, because he had commissioned a quite elaborate frame for one of them. No stone unturned as he built his career.


You look at these compositions -- which can teach you a lot about aspect ratio and cropping if nothing else -- and marvel at the life-like drawing. The early watercolors excepted, there isn't much detail. He was too busy for that, we imagine.

Not unlike David Hockney's latest work. Not a great deal of time spent on detail (megapixels in our universe) but the drawing doesn't make a false step.

Hockney himself explained that. The drawing is informed by optics. Photography.

In the Hockey exhibit A Bigger Exhibition, you'll find a large expanse devoted to his Great Wall. It's a collection of realistic paintings throughout history which shows, around 1420, realism became a good deal more credible. He attributes that to the use of optical aids like the camera lucida.


That doesn't spoil the art for us, but it does refocus our appreciation on the color.

Both Zorn and Hockney are superb colorists.

It's no wonder Hockney took to the iPad (some of his drawings made on it with the Brushes app are in the exhibit). It's just another palette (if faster, as he put it in a NewsHour interview, than watercolor). But a palette of transmitted, not reflected, light.

Color was what sold the early Sony Mavicas. There wasn't a lot of resolution even in the CD Mavicas (which offered two- and four-megapixel sensors). People loved their Mavica JPEGs because the color was very nicely rendered.

As I stepped outside again, color was what attracted me -- not detail -- on this spectacularly beautiful day. It's called the Golden Gate Bridge, after all, not the Suspender Rope Bridge.

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