Another commissioned painting, this time as a gift from the parents to a young couple to be married. This spot on the Blackwood River just by the Road bridge was where they got engaged. A lovely gesture and a fantastic subject but oh what a challenge!

I visited the site to scout it out and took about a million photos trying to find a suitable viewpoint for the composition. Many were in panoramic series using a DSLR. I just couldn’t fit in the amount of information I wanted to with single photos. Back in the studio after compiling the panoramas and trolling though all the photos many times I decided the best composition would be as can be seen in the finished painting. I put my ideas to the client and they gave me the go ahead.

Lovely as the composition was, the lighting pattern in my reference photos was unsuitable. The sun was lighting up the far bank and reflecting across the river beautifully, but the wooden platform and seat were in dull shadow and all the foreground trees were in dark silhouette. I couldn’t make the painting work like that so I had to go back to the river a few times until I got the perfect light fall that I needed on the foreground bank.

The original composition was based on a panorama of six portrait photos panned from right to left across the subject and the new photos I had to take had to match that exactly. I had to take them from the same spot so I went looking for that and lining up the various elements in the original photos to work out where to stand. I couldn’t do it! I walked up and down the bank in frustration trying vainly to position myself at the correct intersect between the wooden structures and the large tree on the left. Nothing looked right. Eventually I discovered the large tree no longer existed! It had fallen into the river and left only a bit of jagged stump. I new where everything was now so I positioned the camera and got the new series of photos I needed to capture the better light conditions although sans tree.

Back in the studio I processed the panorama for my new reference and compared to the original I found that now all the beautiful light I had captured on the far bank and water was dark shadow in the new photos. I had two completely different times of day with different light falls on one side of the composition to the other and a missing tree. However I could see the composite of these two images would make the painting I wanted although I really wasn’t sure how I’d bring the two different light patterns together.  I had the tree in one reference image which I had to keep, along with beautiful light across the water and far bank. However all the foreground foliage and trees on the close bank were in dark silhouette as opposed to the later reference with the good foreground lighting where they were all glowing bright greens and yellows with sun shining through them.

Click image for larger view

Getting the light right was definitely a tough task that took quite a bit of to and fro and contemplation as I worked the painting up to a finish, Eventually I made the decisions that you see  which, as best as I could achieve, combine two completely different times of day with opposite light and shadow patterns into one single cohesive image.

And if you’re wondering what the clients thought of it? In their words:

” – thank you once again for the wonderful painting.  J…. & K…. in Bunbury absolutely loved it – the whole family have enjoyed the piece.”

Oil on canvas, 76cm x 51cm (30″ x 20″)