Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Abstract illusion

click photo to enlarge
Sometimes, when I'm looking around for an "abstractish" photograph to take, I come across a combination of shapes and colours that pleases me. And every now and then I find one that pleases AND surprises me. Both responses come from selecting a part of the surroundings, and in so doing, changing ones understanding of it. Blinds become repetitive patterns with zig-zags, a bottle of water reveals unseen forms and colours, a stack of plastic chairs becomes an organic form whilst metal chairs reveal a high-tech rhythm, and a section of tinted windows finds an elegance that it could never achieve as part of the whole lurid building. When you do this you get the sense of discovery that comes from finding the extraordinary in the commonplace.

I got that feeling the other day when taking the photograph I offer above. It wasn't the same feeling that I had when taking the shots noted earlier. This time it was principally surprise that I felt because the image I had recorded was so very hard to decipher! Part of it was clearly out of focus, and part of it was as sharp as could be. It was hard to work out what was near to the camera and what was most distant. I showed it to my wife and she couldn't work out what it was. "Is there a lot of rust in the image? Are there shadows?", she asked. Can you see what I photographed?

In fact, the shot shows a section of the seat of a curved, slatted, stainless steel bench. The brown stripes in the photograph are the out of focus concrete below the seat, and other stripes are the metal slats. The shadow of the back of the seat falls across the seat slats which themselves vary in colour according to the amount and angle of the light falling on them. I used a short zoom, to take the shot, and gave it a symmetry that only the shadows broke. A great shot - no. But an interesting illusion - yes, I think so.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen