Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Abstraction and photography

click photo to enlarge
Abstraction is a genre of both painting (fine art) and photography. It's technically much easier, of course, to achieve with a brush than with a camera because the image can flow from your brain, through your hand and on to the canvas. In the case of photography the image usually has to flow from the real world, to your brain, then through your camera to the final image, be it on a screen or in printed form. This grounding of photographic abstraction (indeed all photography) in the real world is one of the things that makes it differ from painting. Of course there are photographers who arrange real objects to make their vision, and there are others who manipulate the image - either digital or print - to achieve their goal. But, in general, it is true to say that photographic abstraction is rooted in reality.

This is one reason why I never use the phrase "abstract photograph", but prefer instead the more precise "semi-abstract photograph." The fact is, when you approach a photograph that appears to be abstract in the sense of "not involving concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances", it invariably loses some of that quality once the construction of the image is described by the photographer.

That is pretty much the case with today's photograph. If you look at it (ignoring the title below the image) then it appears to be an assemblage of overlapping and intersecting triangles and quadrilaterals in varying tones. That is, in fact, what appealed to me and what prompted the shot. But, if I say that the shadows and light effects were being produced by a sculpture that consisted of a long row of tall glass blocks, you'll start to decode the image and it will begin to reveal its origins. The multiple gallery lighting that was illuminating the work produced the effect, and made the work more than it would have been, in my judgement, had it been lit by daylight or a single light.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On