What is glare?

A few weeks ago I talked about how light bounces at the “angle of incidence.” It is the reason why if you are driving down the street on a sunny day and a car in front of you suddenly throws off a blinding glare of light into your eyes.  If you move lanes or the cars go around a bend, the blinding glare may move off of the car and you can see again. 

Why? Well it makes sense that it is coming from the sun, right? And bouncing toward us in that moment at— the angle of incidence.  And even though that light may seem blinding in the moment it is not as bright as the source- the sun.  So here is another peculiarity of light.  Once light bounces  off of an object it scatters out in all directions from an object- like in the pic above.  Once it bounces it loses its power.  It loses its strength.  (the bounce off the car is not as strong as the sun hitting your eyes even if it hurts) This is very important. Because light after a bounce will never be as strong as coming from the source- whether it be the sun or a floodlight, or whatever.  This means when pretty light beams bounce onto the shoulder of a model from a floodlight and then bounce onto the face or under the chin, yes, that reflected light can seem strong, but the light is never as strong as the source, so an area receiving REFLECTED LIGHT IS NEVER THE SAME VALUE as the LIT SIDE OF AN OBJECT. 

And think of this-  in order to even see reflected light, it has to bounce into a shadow (it can’t be seen when it bounces into the lit area right?) so reflected light is always part of the “void” – or the area where there is lack of direct light. ( please ignore the word “shadow” from now on) And because of that, reflected light is always darker than the lit side. 

I see so many paintings that portray light bounced up under the chin as just as bright as the lit side of the face. Can’t happen. It is just physics.  That is a lie that a photo will show  you though.  And we fall for it. Paint it and expect admiration for it.  Problem is, it is incorrect.  

Realism in its truest sense is about understanding light. So be on the lookout for this little red flag in your photo references.  

Again, if you want to learn all I can teach ya about light, join me this weekend for the Power of Pastel online workshop this Saturday and Sunday.  Send me an email and I will send a link.  I am not sure when I will being doing this again online. After that I will be traveling again. I will be teaching in- person workshops in Dallas, Texas in October and in Austin, Texas in November.

It truly is the most important thing I can teach. And understanding light affects everything.  

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