Welcome to the quiz section of Americano Dream where we’ll challenge your photography knowledge skills through our fine art photos we’ve created. Our goal is to give you something back—all we ask is that you share this with others and help us spread the gospel of photography.

The concept is simple; we’ll take you through a photo and find a technique and discuss it further, then ask you various questions at the end. These questions may seem “trivia” at times, but the idea is to help you better understand the “why” in photographic fine art techniques and help you “see” the next time you’re after a great capture. There are no prizes at the moment, but the more people that participate will help us provide prizes in the future. We hope you’ll gain some knowledge through this quiz and the use of one of our fine art photography creations. The questions are designed to stimulate your brain and you can take the quiz more than once.

Model Photography

Photo taken during our photographer model extravaganza in Atlanta.

So let’s begin! In this first photo, you have a basic fundamental concept taught in the first level of “Art” in most top colleges—chiaroscuro. I’ve often written about this technique as a method to create the illusion of depth in photography, used first by painters including the greats Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, aka in the art world as Raphael. Chiaroscuro is also important when emphasizing form in photography.

Photography, just like a painter’s canvas, is a two-dimensional medium and the use of chiaroscuro helps create the illusion of depth, or a third dimension. Chiaroscuro is an important compositional element in photography especially if you want to create a photograph vs. a picture. Anyone can take pictures though less people can create photographs and few create masterpieces and those that have, like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Yousuf Karsh understood the power of chiaroscuro.

In art, the use of chiaroscuro is to create contrasts between lights and darks, shadows and highlights. Basically it creates volume in an image through these contrasts. Its origination is believed to have started during the Renaissance period of painting and drawing, as artists would use the paper’s base tone with white guache (type of opaque paint) and toward dark with ink.

In Cinematography, chiaroscuro is used to “indicate extreme low-key and high-key contrast lighting to create distinct areas of light and darkness in films, especially black and white films.”

The most famous use of chiaroscuro in cinematography was by what Time (2005) magazine considered one of the greatest films ever made, Barry Lyndon, by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick was able to secure three 50mm lenses made by Carl Zeiss originally for NASA’s use for the Apollo lunar landings. These lenses had the largest aperture available at the time, with a maximum aperture of f/0.7 and are a part of photographic history.

Carl Zeiss made only ten of these lenses, known as the Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm to “capture the far side of the moon” in 1966. Zeiss kept one lens plus sold six to NASA and three to Kubrick. These lenses allowed Kubrick not only to focus on chiaroscuro, but he shot many scenes of the movie with only candlelight.

Chiaroscuro is powerful as Kubrick proved along with Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn who was a master of what is now taught in photography as one of the four patterns of lighting in photography, Rembrandt Lighting. The other three patterns of lighting recognized by major photography schools, including Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbra, are Paramount, Split, and Loop lighting.

Paramount lighting, made famous by Paramount Studios, is also known as Butterfly lighting and became popular in the 1930s. Though often confused as two other patterns of lighting “Broad and Short” they are not, they are actually a style of lighting and exact opposites of each other. The four traditional patterns of light all rely on chiaroscuro.

Whether you’re a painter, photographer, cinematographer or similar artist, chiaroscuro is an important element in composition and the greats have mastered it. Probably one of the most famous ties of chiaroscuro with a painter that evolved into a best-selling fiction story then a movie, and I encourage every photographer to see this film, is the “Girl With The Pearl Earring.” The original painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer was created in 1665, then the story behind it went on to become a best-selling historical novel in 1999, selling over three million copies before it became a movie in 2003.

So there you have it especially if your plans call for taking Art in college as chances are your first basic course will cover not only the great painters mentioned here but also the importance of chiaroscuro in art. If you have the passion to create great photos as a photographer, then it’s just as critical to understand the importance of chiaroscuro too. Now are you ready for the quiz?

Read the article first, before taking the test, all the answers are in the article!

Proceed to the Photography Quiz, click the start quiz button below:

Don’t forget to download your free copy of Rolando’s fifth photography book on iTunes now while still available!

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