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Training your eye is very important. To take your photography to the next level and grow as an artist, you need to know what looks good, have an open mind and build your own style.


  •  Point at the first thing that attracts your attention (often being the brightest point in the image) 



  • Try to mentally trace the path your eye takes around the image (it's like connecting the dots in order to discover the story, in this case)



  • Has the photographer used the rule of thirds? Or a different type of placing the elements in the image?


  • Has the photographer shot from his eye level? Or chose a different point of view?


  • What is the photographer trying to transmit with the image?


  • How has the photographer used the environment to tell the story?


  • How has the photographer used light?


  • Why does the image work?


  • Does the image evoke an emotional response in the viewer's eye?


  • From the above, which can be applied to my photography?


I'm going to exemplify the above with an exercise that anyone can do, whether we're talking about a photograph, a painting and why not, a movie screenshot. Art is all around us, waiting for us to see it and recognize its effect on our minds.

I chose the Las Meninas painting by Diego Velázquez because we all know photography was born being highly influenced by the art of painting and it's said that this painting anticipated the invention of the camera because of its effect of naturalism and seen as a 'snapshot' of that particular moment in time and space. 
Velazquez.meninas by DianaGrigore
I'm going to analyze it by going through the 10 points stated above:

1. The first thing that attracts the viewer's attention is the little girl which is almost centrally placed in the foreground group of figures. The light that falls from the window on the right makes her the brightest figure in the painting, due to her dress and the way she's positioned so that most of the light falls on her.

2. We first discover the little girl's face, and after that our eyes look around her and discover the other figures that are in the background, their expressions and how they relate to the main subject. Then we discover the two figures in the mid ground, and then the man in the background. Our eyes rest a bit more on the man in the background, because he is wearing dark clothing on a bright lit wall. 

3. In the diagram below, the the green lines define the central axis of the back walls of the room. The red diagonal lines define the center of the painting, and the vertical red line articulate the central axes of the painting. The blue lines articulate the orthogonals in the perspective system. Usually, all of these lines would converge, but in this painting none of these line up. This is due to the way Velázquez thought to present this image as a spontaneous portrait. If the main subject were to be placed at the intersection of these lines, the story would have been different, directing all the attention towards the little girl.
Velazquez Lasmeninas Diag by DianaGrigore
In that way, Velázquez invites the viewer to be a part of this painting, and discovering all the details that make this special. One of the things that makes the viewer involved in the painting is the mirror in the background, which is reflecting the images of the young girl's parents, who are watching the painting process from behind. This brings us to another idea to reflect upon; if the viewer would take the position of the subjects in the mirror, the vanishing point of the image would have to be directly in the center of the mirror, but it is positioned to the right of the mirror. From this point of view, it seems that the reflection of the king and queen could be interpreted as being the reflection of the image of the king and queen in the painting that Velázquez works on. It's deliberately left to the viewer to decide upon that.
Velazquez Lasmeninas Mirr by DianaGrigore

4. The horizon line is placed lower than the standing figures in the picture plane, thus creating the illusion that the horizon line of the painting is consistent with the actual eye-level of the king standing in front of the painting. 

5. The interpretation of the image as a whole is left to the viewer's decision, after understanding the placement of the figures in the painting. It has been said that a consequence of creating such a spatial construction like this is making himself (Velázquez) as the highest figure in the painting.

6. I think this painting is brought to life by those little details that we, as viewers, discover after trying to connect all the 'dots' together. The painter used the environment to bring little bits and pieces that could back up the first concept that comes to mind. The way the subjects are placed in the frame, the details in the mirror, the man standing by the door in the background, the self-portrait of Velázquez incorporated in the frame, all of them add to the narrative of the painting.

7. Lighting has its great purpose in this painting, Velázquez used natural light coming from the window from the right as the main source, placing the little girl in front of the viewer's attention and creating tridimensionality with the light in the background (light in the foreground, darkness in the mid ground and light again in the background).

8. The image works because the effect of naturalism and spontaneity is achieved, and all the elements in the image gather as a whole, leaving no space for anything less or anything more.

9. It's that type of painting in which the viewer is allowed to take part of the narrative, it almost feels like you are there and not just admiring it.

10. The last point is up to us to incorporate all that we've learned and all that we'll be learning from now on into our concepts and ideas. The more you know about something, the more experience you have to take great photography. 

:heart:


Add a Comment:
 
:iconnachoben:
nachoben Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Visual education is necessary when studying a classical painting.


diegovelazquez.webcindario.com…


Enjoy it.
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:iconregularjane:
regularjane Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
An excellent read! :heart:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
Thank you, dear Jane! :heart:
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:iconregularjane:
regularjane Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
:hug:
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:iconmcflyky:
McFlyky Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great explanation, and a well written essay. I can tell you are passionate about photography. I too have always wondered which eyes perspective we are seeing through. I always imagine it was that man in the background and this entire scene is through the perspective of a giant mirror.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
Great interpretation:) It gives that illusion because most of them are looking at the same point in the painting.
Reply
:iconsweetladyamy:
sweetladyamy Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Actually, yeah very informative. Though my depth perception is godawful (maybe that's why I can't draw) it is still useful knowledge.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
Many thanks! :hug:
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:iconsweetladyamy:
sweetladyamy Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
You're very welcome, sweetheart.
Reply
:iconthedoughnuter:
thedoughNUTer Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist
I just want to know how the artists got to the tiny details, I mean did they use a magnifying glass? In the closeup you can really see them in the flowers.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
That's because he painted on a really big canvas. The size of this painting is approx 300 cm in height (125.2 in). You can see a reference of it here: [link]
:)
Reply
:iconmcflyky:
McFlyky Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow! i always knew this was a big painting. It is really cool to see it next to people though. Gives me some real world perspective.

Although not the case here, often times artists would make these paintings gigantic then place them right outside their home, leaning up, as a result catching the attention of whomever passes by. Back then they didn't have the internet so they had to advertise anyway they could, haha. I always thought that was interesting.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
I wish I could get to see it, in the future. And not only this painting, of course. Travelling plans are far away but at the same time so close.
Back then this was taken seriously by most of the people and was a serious 'job'. Of course, only a few of them were so lucky to be painting for the king :P
Reply
:iconmcflyky:
McFlyky Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
duly noted
Reply
:iconphostructor:
Phostructor Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
An interesting analysis of a painting; why not use a photo for an article with this title?
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:iconmanatiki:
manatiki Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
I totally agree.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
I've already stated my reason for choosing a painting as an example for this article, as I encourage everyone to study paintings as inspiration for their photography :)
Reply
:iconhaiircurlers:
haiircurlers Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
That is what I thought, as paintings and photos can differ quite a lot.
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Of course, they are different mediums. The technical bits aren't alike at all, but in terms of (e.g.)concept/lighting/colors/placement of the subject/narrative they can have similarities.
Reply
:iconcality:
cality Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Great article! :clap:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Thank you! :aww:
Reply
:iconcality:
cality Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:la:
Reply
:icontheleetcasualgamer:
TheLeetCasualGamer Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks a bunch for this. My brother is actually a Photographer and it's really tough to appreciate his work with limited knowledge of it so this helped. c:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
I'm so glad this was useful to you! :hug:
Reply
:iconkeimichi:
Keimichi Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! This is very inspirational not only for photographers, but as someone who draws. I think it'll help me making my pictures more lively in the future. Thank you!
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Many thanks! :heart:
Reply
:iconstargazer-sai:
stargazer-sai Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks :)
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Glad you enjoyed reading it! :dance:
Reply
:icontcreates:
TCreates Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Thank you! Had not thought about some the points given when I look at a photo! Very informative!
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
I think they all come naturally to all of us, maybe applying them while looking at photos/paintings/any different kind of art will make you remember them :)
Thank you so much!:heart:
Reply
:icone-no91:
e-no91 Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I learned a lot! XD
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
And that makes me really happy!I'm glad you had the time to read it and found it useful somehow! :hug:
Reply
:iconthe-quirky-banana:
The-Quirky-Banana Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Student Writer
Wow, this is very informative and well-written! You clearly know what you are talking about! :huggle: :)
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
As I'm writing these articles, I'm remembering things which I forgot or I didn't apply into my artworks before, so I'm really really glad to share this with everybody and get opinions and discussions. Thank you for your words! :hug:
Reply
:iconhayley--jade:
hayley--jade Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Great read and advice! :clap:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Thank you, my dear! :bow:
Reply
:iconhayley--jade:
hayley--jade Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
you're welcome :hug:
Reply
:iconastrikos:
Astrikos Featured By Owner May 27, 2013   General Artist
Well written! Interesting read! :love:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Thank you! :dance:
Reply
:iconastrikos:
Astrikos Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   General Artist
:heart:
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
Interesting read :D

Cuz i had to scroll down the picture on my screen, my eye went from top left to bottom right following the roses on the ceiling to the door at the back, then to the mongol girl/woman in the blue dress who has an over sized head. Scrolling up the picture i go from the moody dog with the girls foot on him :XD: then straight to the girl in the light.

The tall painting may be not very wide? but i cant help but think i should be able to see the artists arm .. or the top of the left girls head in the mirror :D

Also there are no chandeliers in the room i wonder why? maybe the artist didnt want them overshadowing his self portrait :D Nothings taller than me! :giggle:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
Interesting way to look at ;)
I imagined it with chandeliers. No..If they were lit, they would form a pointless attraction in the painting :)
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
I imagined the chandeliers could just be turned off with a light switch :rofl: but i guess they had candles back then :lmao:

They need some chandeliers like these, one is definatly attracted to something.. [link] :D
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
:iconwhoareyoupeopleplz:
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner May 29, 2013
whats that drawing :lol: at first i thought it was a car at a Mcdonalds drive through :rofl:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
It's you behind the computer (well, computer desk and computer) and you're looking at some weird stuff :P
Reply
:iconjaffacakesandpopcorn:
jaffacakesandpopcorn Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2013
Oh i see it now hahaaaaaaaaa! :lmao:
Ive got a laptop :P
I had to go put "weird stuff" into google images.. :lol:
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2013
:lol:
Reply
:iconjaelise:
jaelise Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Professional Photographer
Awesome article, thanks for posting!
Reply
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner May 27, 2013
Glad you enjoyed reading it! :thumbsup:
Reply
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