Arkansas River: Painting vs. Photo

Note: I will be posting all of the entries in the "Plein Air Persistence" contest 
late today or tomorrow. I can't do it right now because I'm in transit at the moment.

One of the reasons I love painting directly from Nature instead of just from photos is that I can see so many colors that the camera can't register. 
Here's a study in watercolor and gouache. I was trying to replicate the colors I saw, and I don't think I was exaggerating them too much (OK, maybe I was enhancing them a little bit).

I took a photo at the same time, and maybe I'm a lousy photographer, but it seems that the camera missed a lot of the warm and cool variation at midrange values. So if this photo was all I had to go on, I wouldn't even know those colors were there. 

That said, I'm fascinated by photography, and I occasionally enjoy trying to incorporate certain photographic effects (such as color grading, lens flares, and bokeh) in scenes that I'm painting directly from observation. Also, as a reference tool, the photo has a lot of useful information for form and texture. So really, the ideal field reference is a combination of plein-air studies and photos.

Next up is our adventure homeward on Greyhound and Amtrak.

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