Monday, February 20, 2012

Shadows and semi-abstraction

click photo to enlarge
The Hungarian-born photographer, Andre Kertesz (1894-1985), created some of his most famous photographs inside the Cafe du Monde, Paris. They show forks, plates and the like, alongside deep shadows. The other body of his work that is frequently cited is based on distortions - swimmers under water, figures seen in curved mirrors. He did a lot of other photography of a more straightforward nature, but these, what we might call "semi-abstract" works, are generally the ones linked to his name. Kertesz did not enjoy the acclaim during his lifetime or after his death than many lesser photographers received. Cartier-Bresson, however, recognised his significance when he said, "everything we did had already been done by Kertesz."

It was Kertesz photography involving shadows that came to mind as I was processing today's photograph. Not because it achieves or even aspires to the standards that he set. Rather it was the way the shadow is an essential part to the composition. In fact, unlike Kertesz's way of working, the three-dimensions of this scene were immediately translated into two dimensions in my mind and at the moment I took the shot I was envisaging it as a flat pattern on my screen. I've taken quite a few photographs that work in this way, and have written elsewhere about how I like the complexity and, sometimes, trickery, that shadows bring to a photograph.

This birch tree was planted by a roadside footpath next to a couple of industrial buildings. I was fortunate to have some strong February sunlight over my shoulder illuminating the tree, bricks and green door, and actually creating the deep shadow, the final and essential element for my composition.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 58mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On