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To understand value and saturation of color and light, let's consider a term in art known as Chiarascuro. The use of strong contrast between light and dark, usually bold contrast affecting a whole composition. Countless films have used Chiarascuro for dramatic effect in film noir. The films were shot in black and white, explored purely in value the use of expressive light. Most people associate Chiarascuro with Renaissance paintings like the self portrait of Rembrandt. His paintings are synonymous with the idea of light revealing only parts of a form in a darkened space.
My favorite example is a painting by Caravaggio, the Sacrifice of Isaac. As every element of contrasting light and shadow working together in concert for a most compelling piece. This painting, created between 1590 and 1610 demonstrates, not only the effective use of Chiaroscuro but also a strong composition, depth of field and dramatic emotional impact achieved by limited color and saturation of pigment used to suggest the warm temperature of the light.
If we analyze how we view this image, the concentration of the light contrast brings us to the three human heads forming a triangle. We pay close attention to where each character is looking. And move along the triangle from knife, boy, father to angel. The expression on each face exemplifies the drama of this narrative scene and the value forces us to pay attention to the knife. And faces first and finally releases us to travel away from the moment.
Safely to the background in the right hand corner. The knife actually points to the corner, as a means of escape, though we may look first at the angels hand but only moments before stop the carnage. The sheep in softer contrast, a light in color saturation or intensity points us back into the scene even if we try to find safe retreat in the distant horizon. If you focus on the contrast and the use of light, the hierarchy of importance of each element both as a matter of compositions.
And the meaning of the paintings is clearly defined for the viewer by limiting the pallet to have focus on value, saturation and light. The message has become more illuminated.
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