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Chromatic Aberration

I'm often asked (usually by other artists), "Why [when painting detail] do I even include chromatic aberrations?" That's the bright fringing of odd colors around the bright blue wave areas in the water of this painting, Blue Wave Blonde.

Its a phenomenon common to all lenses--and of course, that includes the human eye. So we see it but our brains usually filter that out. Part of what attracts me to paint underwater scenes in bright sunlight is the extreme lighting conditions, the very conditions that cause chromatic aberrations and prismic distortions. Water refracts light, often at such obtuse angles as to split it apart briefly, like a prism does.

If you study the aberrations (as in the painting above), you'll notice that light is being split in a color spectrum, with yellow/orange/red/violet on one side and usually green/blue/purple on the other of any given line. It seems bizarre when you focus in on it, but taken in context it looks completely natural and our brains parse it as being realistic...because it is!

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