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Author Topic: Could I Get Some Impressions?  (Read 20364 times)
ag3photography
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« on: April 20, 2006, 06:42:44 PM »
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I recently took a day trip down the California coast from S.F. to Big Sur.  One of my stops was Point Lobos, and I had a blast creating some abstract photographs. This particular one is the first I've processed, and I would like to get some feedback from the community here.  Technical and/or Artistic/Emotional feedback is welcome. Thanks.

A.J.

http://www.ag3photography.com/landscape/po...s-1-logoMat.jpg[attachment=500:attachment]
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jeffok
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2006, 08:32:29 PM »
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I recently took a day trip down the California coast from S.F. to Big Sur.  One of my stops was Point Lobos, and I had a blast creating some abstract photographs. This particular one is the first I've processed, and I would like to get some feedback from the community here.  Technical and/or Artistic/Emotional feedback is welcome. Thanks.

A.J.

http://www.ag3photography.com/landscape/po...s-1-logoMat.jpg[attachment=500:attachment]
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jeffok
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2006, 08:37:27 PM »
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I recently took a day trip down the California coast from S.F. to Big Sur.  One of my stops was Point Lobos, and I had a blast creating some abstract photographs. This particular one is the first I've processed, and I would like to get some feedback from the community here.  Technical and/or Artistic/Emotional feedback is welcome. Thanks.

A.J.

http://www.ag3photography.com/landscape/po...s-1-logoMat.jpg[attachment=500:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=63206\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Great contrast, combination of shadow and light plays very nicely on the grain of the sand and creates a kind of stark and yet rich impression. I like it from a technical point of view. In terms of evoking emotion or conveying a message... hmmmm. This may not be important to you but I tend to look for it. What is the key feature here, the message, the emotion you want to convey? It might be stronger with a strong single feature as part of the overall tone you a e setting with an otherwise excellent shot. Just one opinion.
Jeff
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larkvi
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2006, 09:56:37 PM »
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I really like the crop, but would like to see some more detail in the shadows.
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jule
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2006, 10:47:15 PM »
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Thank you for posting your image.
Interest is created in your image because of the lack of identifying features of scale, which I like, and I think is often important in abstract photographs for them to work really well.. From a short distance away, it is difficult to tell whether it is a macro type shot of sand grains, or from the air across a desert area. That element of uncertainty for me is positive for the image, but my eye is hungry for more. I think I am searching for what is in the shadow areas... which is sometimes a good thing - ie, not to give the viewer everything, but in this case, I don't think there isn't enough elsewhere to hold the image on its' own.
The image seems a little 'heavy' for me, or cumbersome...perhaps it is the two large dark areas...hmmmm, and I don't really have any real emotional response to your image, sorry. Do you have a link to any others??
Julie
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ag3photography
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2006, 11:33:14 PM »
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Thank you for posting your image.
Interest is created in your image because of the lack of identifying features of scale, which I like, and I think is often important in abstract photographs for them to work really well.. From a short distance away, it is difficult to tell whether it is a macro type shot of sand grains, or from the air across a desert area. That element of uncertainty for me is positive for the image, but my eye is hungry for more. I think I am searching for what is in the shadow areas... which is sometimes a good thing - ie, not to give the viewer everything, but in this case, I don't think there isn't enough elsewhere to hold the image on its' own.
The image seems a little 'heavy' for me, or cumbersome...perhaps it is the two large dark areas...hmmmm, and I don't really have any real emotional response to your image, sorry. Do you have a link to any others??
Julie
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Jule,

Thanks for your feedback. I certainly appreciate you taking some time to put your thoughts down for me. Everything you said makes sense.

For me personally, I tend to favor higher contrast B&W for its impact. Also, with abstracts, I really enjoy the mystery created when I cannot tell for sure what the image is. If I have to contemplate an image for a while, longer than 10 or 15 seconds, my mind really begins to imagine all sorts of interesting creative things. So, with that said, I tried to accomplish impact through the wide dynamic range and sense of mystery by not revealing every little detail. I simply  enjoy the patterns for what they are.

The shot is actually of stone...it might be sand stone. Anyway, it was as hard as a rock and the formations were from the flow of water as the tide came in and out. I suppose wind could have also had something to do with the shapes. For me, it is simply awe inspiring how nature creates so many interesting and beautiful sites.

Thanks again for your comments. They are valuable to me.

BTW, I am still processing more images from my trip, so I may have more to post later. Right now, I do not have a link to any other photos I'd like to share.

Take care.

A.J.
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ag3photography
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2006, 11:35:26 PM »
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Great contrast, combination of shadow and light plays very nicely on the grain of the sand and creates a kind of stark and yet rich impression. I like it from a technical point of view. In terms of evoking emotion or conveying a message... hmmmm. This may not be important to you but I tend to look for it. What is the key feature here, the message, the emotion you want to convey? It might be stronger with a strong single feature as part of the overall tone you a e setting with an otherwise excellent shot. Just one opinion.
Jeff
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Thanks for your comments Jeffok.

I hear what you are saying about a single, prominent feature. The emotion I was trying to evoke with this creation was one of confusion, where the viewer would not be quite sure what it is they are looking at, but might come up with some ideas of what it could be.

Thanks again for your thoughts. I do appreciate it.

A.J.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2006, 04:14:09 AM »
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Interesting image, thanks for posting it.

The contrast works for me, and there probably isn't anything too interesting in the shadows anyway IMHO.

The only thing that hurts my eye a bit is the crop on the right side. I feel that you should either crop a bit more or a bit less, but that the relative position between the sand patterns and the edge of the frame isn't perfect at the moment.

Just my 2 cent.

Regards,
Bernard
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russell a
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2006, 10:47:04 AM »
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The following comments are not specific to your image, but reflect on a concern I have that there may be two problems inherent to "abstract photography".  First, the question that is invariably asked of such photos is "what is it?" This, in itself, immediately risks that the work will be given a verbal equivalent that will remove it to varying degrees from being treated as a visual experience.   If a satisfactory answer is provided for the "what is it" question,  the questioner can file the answer to "the puzzle" in the brain's verbal storage facility and only then "see" it in terms of the label.

The second problem is that, in the cases where the viewer is still able to treat the image on formal visual terms,  there is the issue that abstract images taken by the camera are, of course, "found objects" and thus represent a different degree and intensity of intent on the part of the maker than in the case of an abstract work created from scratch.  Thus, abstract photographs perhaps always come with a discount tag - that they may be whimsical, interesting, etc., but they aren't deep.

In my thinking, photography gives up a lot when it departs from what is an obvious relationship to the tangible world.  The question, "but what is it" necessarily signals a reluctance to accept an image as "given".

I would be interested in your comments.
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opgr
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2006, 01:57:09 PM »
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Interesting thoughts.

However, I think that sometimes it's actually necessary for an abstract to become specific by label in order for it to go deep. Images come to mind of rippled water with reflections. Most people will, once they recognize an image as a reflection, also recognize the contemplative mood this may evoke. But the image itself, if well executed, may still be viewed as just a study in form and fill.

Given this, what would be the limit of "abstraction"? If the image contains both a reflection and the object reflected, but the object is irrelevant as subject and merely acts as a divisional form, is the image then still an abstract?

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This, in itself, immediately risks that the work will be given a verbal equivalent that will remove it to varying degrees from being treated as a visual experience.

In my thinking, photography gives up a lot when it departs from what is an obvious relationship to the tangible world.  The question, "but what is it" necessarily signals a reluctance to accept an image as "given".
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Oscar Rysdyk
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russell a
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2006, 02:42:49 PM »
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I would suggest that we can label as an "abstraction" (perhaps a better term would be "formalism") any photograph in which the subject matter can not easily be identified as a real world entity(ies) such that the viewer's attention is left with only the formal elements (form, line, color, arrangement. relationship) to comtemplate.  The easy test is simply do viewer's ask "what is it?"
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rlh1138
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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2006, 12:03:19 PM »
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Commenting on the discussion more than the photo - re: what is abstract, should photos be 'recognizable', etc.   Interesting topic to me as I shoot a lot (mostly) 'abstracts'.  I love the paintings of Mark Rothko and others in the 'abstract expressionist' vein.  People don't look at that work and ask 'what is it', cause they've been 'educated' that paintings aren't necessarily of anything. (i.e. Pollack).   Can photography be that free as well?  Should it be?  Can I think of myself as a printmaker - who happens to use a camera?  Does using the camera impose/imply 'rules' that other printmakers don't have?  

Am I making sense - or saying things you all might have a comment on?  I think about these questions and wonder what other photographers think.
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russell a
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2006, 02:14:40 PM »
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Can I think of myself as a printmaker - who happens to use a camera?  Does using the camera impose/imply 'rules' that other printmakers don't have? 
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You are free to think of yourself anyway you wish.  The world may think differently.

Using a camera means that, as a "printmaker" you are constrained to using "found material".  The quality of intent is different when you are choosing from given elements rather than creating your own elements through some level of gesture.   You can tell if your audience buys your premise or not by if they ask "what is it."

Many printmaking media are much more tactile than inkjet prints.  If you want to appear more like a printmaker, you may want to consider photogravure.

As a sidelight concerning your interest is Rothko.  His paintings appeared very different before the pigment completely dried out - they were much more subtle and lively and offered much greater opportunity for the viewer to project spirituality into his/her viewing experience.  They have essentially died on the walls that house them but since people are much more likely to see what they have read rather than what is there to see, Rothko's reputation, for now, continues.
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thompsonkirk
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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2006, 09:36:39 PM »
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Pursuing Russell's comment:  

"Thus, abstract photographs perhaps always come with a discount tag - that they may be whimsical, interesting, etc., but they aren't deep. In my thinking, photography gives up a lot when it departs from what is an obvious relationship to the tangible world."

IMO the photographers whose 'abstracts'  are most engaging are those who have quite overtly 'told me' what the subject matter is, but have nevertheless triumphed over the identifiable subject matter to dazzle me with their presentation of form & texture, tone & pattern.  From this standpoint, Siskind would be a prime example; Brett Weston, the nearest to abstract expressionism; & Friedlander the most complex of all.  If your interest is in nature photography, look as his amazing trees!

In contrast, images called 'abstracts' that simply find a patterns in unidentifiable objects are of much less interest, at least to me.
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russell a
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« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2006, 11:27:11 PM »
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IMO the photographers whose 'abstracts'  are most engaging are those who have quite overtly 'told me' what the subject matter is, but have nevertheless triumphed over the identifiable subject matter to dazzle me with their presentation of form & texture, tone & pattern.  From this standpoint, Siskind would be a prime example; Brett Weston, the nearest to abstract expressionism; & Friedlander the most complex of all.  If your interest is in nature photography, look as his amazing trees!
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This is an excellent point - the degree to which we immediately understand, often, in the case of Siskind, that we are looking at a wall, or asphalt and tar paving, etc. and don't have to ask the "dreaded identity question".   Siskind is not altogether consistent in this regard - for example his "Old Horse 46, Chilmark, 1971" requires the caption.

I would be interested to know which Friedlander's you believe fall into the "abstract" category.
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thompsonkirk
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« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2006, 11:51:27 PM »
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Some examples = almost all of the trees is Ch. 8 of the MOMA book; also many shots in "Sticks & Stones" (Brooklyn 2000 a favorite; Tarrytown; the chain-link fences as well as bushes & trees, etc....)
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jule
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« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2006, 01:18:27 AM »
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It may be difficult to equate terms such as 'Abstract' or any other form of 'art' to photography, because each specific 'school' - eg; Romanticism,  Impressionism, Post-impressionism, Neo- impressionism,  etc, etc, has undergone an evolutionary process with usually clearly identifiable features and leaders.  Plucking out some of these features and characteristics and applying them to the art of photography, may not be appropriate, relevant , and definately not that easy.

Even within the confines of 'Abstract art', there are different styles, two of which - Abstract Expressionism and Cubism a more Geometric Abstract art. Regardless of the type of Abstract art, the common element was for the artist to represent his inner self - the non-visible - instead. The art which was created has no reference to any figurative reality. It is art that depicts real forms in a simplified or rather reduced way - keeping only an allusion of the original natural subject.

 Kandinsky was one of the earliest 'Abstract artists'. His "inner necessity" to express his emotional perceptions led to the development of an abstract style of painting that was based on the non-representational properties of color and form.

Many Abstract artists explain - and it has become widely acknowleged - that the physical process of experimenting with and manipulating paint, charcoal, pastel, crayon or any other malleable medium, is inherently and an imperative part of the process of making 'abstract art'. It is this emotional ferver of the process, which is recognised as just as an important part of 'Abstract art' as the finished product.

If working in a 'state' where one there is an emotional drive to explore the physicality of the medium is one of the criteria and features of Abstract art, I am not sure whether this can be achieved at a computer - (making reference to digital processing here). Is it then valid to call an image 'abstract', even when it is clearly unidentifiable, yet does not satisfy one of the acknowleged criteria of the abstract form - that is - the emotional exploration of the physical medium in which the final product is made?  

Perhaps this is the time for a new 'school' of art to evolve within the realm of Photographic Art, and create its' own jargon and characteristics, just as painters have done throughout history. With the development of the digital image, perhaps photography will develop more clearly, artistic styles other than documentary, landscape, portraits, fine art etc..., and not try to borrow or equate from previous art forms.

Perhaps in 20 years or so these new photographic styles with their own definate characteristics may have their own new label. For now, I see a difficulties in saying that something is abstract, just because it explores colour and form, and may be unidentifiable. Part of the process which makes Abstract art what it is, is missing, in the creation of a digital image. Of course..that may not matter... and until then there may not be a better term.


Julie
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alainbriot
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« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2006, 03:39:44 PM »
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To me an abstract is a piece which is removed from the total context in which the subject of the photograph existed.  In other words, the contents of the photograph are abstracted, i.e. taken out, of the larger context in which they were found.

Abstracts, in landscape photography, are often details.  However, there is no obligation that this is the case, as long as the content of the photograph does not make a direct reference to the global context of the scene.  It is, however, easier to create an abstraction by focusing on details than by focusing on the whole scene.  An abstraction of Mt Valley, showing the entire valley, is very challenging.  On the other hand, creating an abstraction of the same location by focusing on a detail of rock, bark or sand, is quite easy.
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Alain Briot
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Ray
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« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2006, 09:30:28 PM »
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Well, there are certainly some interesting, thought provoking concepts in this thread. Abstract photography! It's almost an oxymoron.

Our general obsession with resolution and dynamic range (and all matters technical) naturally flow from the camera's inherent property of being able to produce the most representational of all representational art forms.

When the photographer tries to produce abstracts, I tend to think he/she is probably trying to imitate the abstract painting process by discarding the camera's true strength of producing  this 'most representational of all' images.

Of course, it's quite likely I just have a problem with abstraction in general, when it comes to images. The supreme example of abstraction in art is music. Whilst it's true that some music attempts to imitate natural phenomena with sounds that are suggestive of bird twitterings, vacuum cleaners, or babbling brooks (and the heart beat in particular for those interested in pop)), by and large, music is totally non-representational. It has an emotional impact that transcends any formal meaning. One could even say, music has no 'meaning' other than the emotional impact.

Can an abstract photo have the same effect? Not for me, so far.

Jule makes an interesting point about the abstract painter exploring the physicality of the medium. I don't necessarily see that as a barrier to the photographer producing abstracts. The medium is basically the camera and Photoshop. One can explore the effects of extremely shallow DoF to the point where the image becomes unrecognisable, or one can manipulate the image in PS until it becomes unrecognisable.

The bottom line for me is, any reduction in representationality must be accompanied by at least an equivalent increase in emotional impact. The ideal situation is to combine maximum representationality with maximum emotional impact.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2006, 10:31:03 PM »
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The bottom line for me is, any reduction in representationality must be accompanied by at least an equivalent increase in emotional impact. The ideal situation is to combine maximum representationality with maximum emotional impact.
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Ray,

I agree with you 100% on this point. In my own photography, I have been moving more and more toward "abstraction". I'd be curious to know whether you find any emotional content in any of the images in my current exhibit (Newton, Massachusetts, Library, viewable at [a href=\"http://myrvaagnes.home.mindspring.com/photos/]http://myrvaagnes.home.mindspring.com/photos/[/url] .) They are almost all very "straight", representational, with little manipulation. The first several illustrate what Alain was saying: the first two images show an abandoned railroad car -- not very abstract. The next several are all details from that same railroad car.

Eric
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