Friday, August 23, 2013

Semi-abstract, addition and subtraction

click photo to enlarge
I've mentioned semi-abstract photography, why I use the term, what it is and why I like it, it in posts of 2007 (Blackpool semi-abstract), 2009 (Why semi-abstract photography) and 2010 (A light, stairs and abstraction). Over the years I've also included in the blog many photographs of this genre, some of which I count among my favourite shots.

On a recent shopping expedition to King's Lynn in Norfolk I got another example for my collection. It is, I suppose, one of those photographs that is an acquired taste; the sort of image that appears only in the ouvre of enthusiast photographers. And yet, as I prepared the shot for publication, I reflected that the means of arriving at this particular subject and composition is precisely the same as for any other kind of photograph.

In a way it is easier to appreciate the process of putting together a photograph if we compare it with a similar but different process, so let's for a moment think about the artist with their brushes. The artist starts with a blank canvas and carefully begins to add those elements - real or imagined - that he or she requires in order to arrive at the finished composition: it is essentially an additive process. Photography is approached in a different way and can be thought of as the opposite of this method of working. What photographers do is survey the scene before them, a scene that is potentially 360° in circumference as well as extending above and below, and settles on a small part of it to include in the camera viewfinder. The photographer moves the camera (or zooms the lens) to exclude from the viewfinder anything that isn't needed in the final composition: it is a subtractive process.

As I stood idly in a fairly recently built shopping precinct, waiting for my wife, I did just that. I gazed at the rectangular elements of the upper part of the walls and selected a segment for my photograph that I thought would make a visually interesting composition. I included a rather odd-looking light and some sky. I tried to make the arrangement have balance, contrast, cohesion and harmony. I was looking for a calm, restful and precise photograph where the subject is less important than the colours, shapes, lines etc. I'm not displeased with the outcome.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On