Non Photographic Influences – The National Gallery

It is a really important idea to consider and understand that there are many other aspects to art that can be of great inspiration to your work. The predecessor of image capture to photography was through paintings and therefore it is important to consider how paintings in history may be of particular interest to a photographer and provide some interesting compositions that can influence work today.

This trip to the National Gallery provide a perfect time at which to examine paintings and reverse engineer them just as we do in photographer to see what works in the and what might not work so well. The National Gallery is host to some of the greatest paintings in the world and therefore there is a lot that can be learned.

An experiement on a Bird in the Air Pump 

The lighting of this photograph was what immediately drew to it. The glowing gas lamp in the middle of the painting which brings a warms the individuals. The light is soft and almost kisses the faces of the characters which gives them a friendly warmth. I love the way in which the painter has been able to capture very well the emotion of each of the characters and each one of them can tell their own story.


This was the description given by the side of the painting which just gives a small amount of background information about what the painting is about and the situation of the painting.

It is interesting to hear about the painters interest in contrast in light and shade which is exactly what I was drawn to in the painting.


In relating it to photography I am looking at the way in which people are expressed in the painting. I feel when doing a portrait photography you need to get the individual to open up to the camera to be able to convey that emotion to the audience. Otherwise the portrait that you create is not captivating at all and there does not seem to be much point in taking the photograph unless it is engaging. Therefore this painting by Wright show how when you do make the characters full of emotion and expression it is therefore far more engaging and beautiful.

The lighting in the painting has been very skilfully used to light each character in a different way and not hide anyone in it, so they are all positioned at different levels and around the space so the light reaches them and achieves this.

Glass Vase with Flowers, with a Poppy and a Finch Nest

This painting by Jan van Huysum was of immediate interest to me because it showed me how beautiful still life can be. The detail in this painting is just outstanding. The way in which the light hits the red flower at the top of the painting is so incredibly beautiful. The lighting has been very well used to illuminate the details of the flowers and make them feel so life like. The focal point around the centre has been crafted with the use of more brightly coloured flowers to attract the eye to these areas. The light it is also focused on these areas too to further attract the eye and the surrounding darker flowers and plants fade into the darkness of the background.

painting 2.jpg

Examining the painting in more detail I when getting up closer to it you can see the thought that has gone into it. Here I have taken photographs of smaller sections of the painting to show this:

painting 2 detail.jpg

Here you can see the immense amount of detail that there is in this painting from this more close up photograph.

The artist has examined the real life content of it and added in smaller insects onto the flowers which makes it yet more interesting to look at as you can begin to appreciate how much thought there is in this painting.

You can also see how the light is used to bring the more three dimensional look to the flowers and add more detail to them. The light has meant that each individual petal stands out more as their detail can be seen for the contrast that the lighting makes.

painting 2 detail 1.jpg


Here is just another example where you can see the detail on the insects. You can see the slight shadow cast under the wasp which enhances the three dimensional effect and brings it forward. Had the light be from the front of the flowers I feel it would not have had the same effect. With the light being from the slide it allows you to be able to see the shadow on the wasp more and bring in the detail.





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