Thursday, January 28, 2010

A light, stairs and abstraction

click photo to enlarge
Abstraction in painting involves either taking things from the real world and depicting them in an unreal but recognisable way, or using two dimensional elements such as colour, shape, line, etc non-representationally. If you go to any gallery that includes a reasonably large and wide-ranging selection of post-1900 paintings you are likely to see examples of both these approaches.

In photography it is easy to create images that follow the first method. One can see why, since most photography involves depicting the world around us in one way or another. However, it is (in the main*) not possible to make photographic images the second way because, for the camera, the elements of two dimensional representation, such as pure colour, do not exist independently of objects. They can be introduced using image editing software, but then we have moved into that grey area where digital painting meets photography. As I've said before in this blog, for me the term semi-abstract best describes what photographers do in this sphere.

Today's photograph is my most recent work in the semi-abstract genre. It shows a wall light that illuminates a stairway in a large building. I composed my shot by tilting the camera until I'd got what I considered to be a dynamic but balanced composition of three basic elements - grey wall, black steel support and stairs, and blue sky through glass. My adjustment placed the orange light towards the bottom in the grey wall, and also included its reflection in the black, giving some necessary interest in that region of the photograph. Why do I call this semi-abstract? Because the arrangement of shapes, lines, colours, tones, etc is the primary motivation for the image, and the light, stairs, metal, glass and sky are necessary incidentals.

* deliberate camera flare, and a few other methods can be seen as image making using elements that are not based in the real world

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.2
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66EV
Image Stabilisation: On