You are wondering what FOREST BATHING is and what does it have to do with collecting photo reference. It means "taking in the forest atmosphere." I was reading an article in Time magazine back in May and it appears to be forest bathing is taking time to unwind and connect with nature to improve your health. Simply put: forest bathing is retreating to nature to immerse in the forest atmosphere. This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku. It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. I didn't, but I've been doing this for years!
I don't know about you, but plein air painting when the snow is flying, and it's in the 20's is not my idea of fun. Frostbite and frozen paint is not a pleasant painting experience. What I rather do is collect interesting subject matter throughout the year with my digital camera or iPhone, download to my iPad and lock myself in my studio with a hot cup of coffee.
How do you get around not being overwhelmed by the surroundings?
Try using a 'Viewfinder.' Cut two 'L' shaped pieces of mat board and clip together. This isolates your subject matter and will help with your photo reference composition. Keep a pair of these in your backpack because you will eventually use them when you start plein air painting.
What are you looking for in a good reference?
First look for the contrast of value. A strong light source is essential. Second, having a few large shapes balanced off with some smaller shapes.
Why is an excellent reference essential?
A good reference is important not only for inspiration but structural evidence and good definition.
How do you use a reference to your best advantage?
I identify the direction of the light source. Decide what to eliminate and focus on where the center of interest will be placed.
Capturing scenes with a video camera is easier than ever with your smart phone
Capturing views on video with stop action will allow you to see different movements. Whether people, water or clouds, every second can change the flow in the rush of the moment.
Kakabika Falls, October, 2012
It can also be a historical record of weather conditions. In the case of Kakabika Falls the water flow is down to a trickle exposing a prehistoric beauty. We may never see this again in our lifetimes. With the video I can study the most Intimate details of nature. To view photos of the falls in years past click here and see the astounding difference. Below is our visit a year later and look at the difference in water
Kakabika Falls, October 2012
It can also be a historical record of weather conditions. In the case of Kakabika Falls, the water flow is down to a trickle exposing a prehistoric beauty. We may never see this again in our lifetimes. With the video, I can study the most Intimate details of nature. To view photos of the falls in years past click here and see the astounding difference. Below is our visit a year later and look at the difference in water.
I highly recommend you revisit locations at different times of the year. I feel this helps deepen your understanding of nature.
The above photos are from two different years – notice the water levels. The river rose 2-4 feet due to spring rains and winter snow levels. Nature never stays the same. So, revisit some of the same places again.
Talk about aerial perspective
Taking time to unwind and connect with nature to improve your health and capture the best photo reference. Remember forest bathing is retreating to nature to immerse in the forest atmosphere and bring that feeling back to your studio.
#ForestBathing #PhotoRefference #Watercolor
Dale L Popovich IWS
Dale is an award-winning watercolorist and teacher passionate about capturing the raw beauty of the American landscape with the fluid stroke of a brush. As you will see, the works selected in his portfolio represent the depth of his holistic approach to painting. You can also learn with this talented and experienced teacher through his workshops, Palette & Chisel, and Popovich Studio classes.