Developing a Painting En Plein Air - Outside is such a wonderful experience. This one is titled "Berth 77, San Pedro" is an example...
Step by step, I loosely sketch with colored pencil, and then I start to block in the details. One challenge in this would be that the sky would be changing with the variation of light, the movement of clouds, the sun, the shadows, and so on. So for reference purposes I take progressive photos.
A new challenge that I didn't think about while painting was that the water level will change with the rising and lowering of the tide... Well, of course it will. Was I surpised when the windows of the ship I had been painting started off about 4 feet above the deck of the pier, only to be completely below by the time I had finished for the day (I did not finish this painting yet)
So, I therefore am glad I took reference photos. The yellow boat pictured here was completely out of sight by 3:00 the day I was painting, therefore having more details to work on in the studio, a photo is really beneficial.
I am also glad I got some up close photos of the tall ship. These five windows became obscure as the tide went down, creating various visual obstacles as the day went on.
Sometimes photos allow me to add finer details that I didn't notice when sitting... it all depends on the style of paining I am doing. A loose Oil Sketch / Quick Draw is so much different than a detailed Acrylic (which is what I'm doing here)
And quite often, a photo is a reference for my file... such as how an American Flag drapes when not blowing in the wind.