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Author Topic: Abstraction in landscape photography  (Read 867889 times)
hankbenson
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« Reply #120 on: October 29, 2007, 05:16:31 PM »
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Julie and Eric, forgive my poor navigational skills here and my delay in responding to Julie. I haven't been back to the site for a week or so.

<p>Here's what I've learned about vertical camera movement shots of forest scenes: First, they are imprecise so I typically get one in six to ten that I like okay and fewer that are better.

<p> My basic approach is: I set the shutter speed between 1/5" to 1/3" with the compatible aperture setting. Don't  worry too much about sharpness and DOF. I support the camera to avoid horizontal movement and move the camera as smoothly as possible downwards during exposure, avoiding exaggerated vertical stripes of light from the sky and from too rapid camera movement (this is very important.) If you still get  light stripes near the top but like most of the image, you can clone or crop them out later.

<p> Check your results and adjust shutter speed and camera movement accordingly. Except in low light conditions, I would think 1/2" would be about a maximum exposure time but I haven't experimented enough to be sure.

<P> When you have a composition and exposure that please you, adjust levels, curves, and then play with saturation and hue (you're distorting reality to begin with so I don't suggest being too pure in this realm.)

<P?I'll post a few images for reference and your questions
« Last Edit: October 29, 2007, 07:04:05 PM by hankbenson » Logged
hankbenson
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« Reply #121 on: October 29, 2007, 05:22:44 PM »
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Julie and Eric, forgive my poor navigational skills here and my delay in responding to Julie. I haven't been back to the site for a week or so.

<p>Here's what I've learned about vertical camera movement shots of forest scenes: First, they are imprecise so I typically get one in six to ten that I like okay and fewer that are better.

<p> My basic approach is: I set the shutter speed between 1/5" to 1/3" with the compatible aperture setting. Don't  worry too much about sharpness and DOF. I support the camera to avoid horizontal movement and move the camera as smoothly as possible downwards during exposure, avoiding exaggerated vertical stripes of light from the sky and from too rapid camera movement (this is very important.) If you still get  light stripes near the top but like most of the image, you can clone or crop them out later.

<p> Check your results and adjust shutter speed and camera movement accordingly. Except in low light conditions, I would think 1/2" would be about a maximum exposure time but I haven't experimented enough to be sure.

<P> When you have a composition and exposure that please you, adjust levels, curves, and then play with saturation and hue (you're distorting reality to begin with so I don't suggest being too pure in this realm.)

<P?I'll post a few images for reference and your questions
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hankbenson
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« Reply #122 on: October 29, 2007, 05:46:24 PM »
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Julie and Eric, forgive my poor navigational skills here and my delay in responding to Julie. I haven't been back to the site for a week or so.

<p>Here's what I've learned about vertical camera movement shots of forest scenes: First, they are imprecise so I typically get one in six to ten that I like okay and fewer that are better.

<p> My basic approach is: I set the shutter speed between 1/5" to 1/3" with the compatible aperture setting. Don't worry too much about sharpness and DOF. I support the camera to avoid horizontal movement and move the camera as smoothly as possible downwards during exposure, avoiding exaggerated vertical stripes of light from the sky and from too rapid camera movement (this is very important.) If you still get light stripes near the top but like most of the image, you can clone or crop them out later.

<p> Check your results and adjust shutter speed and camera movement accordingly. Except in low light conditions, I would think 1/2" would be about a maximum exposure time but I haven't experimented enough to be sure.

<P> When you have a composition and exposure that please you, adjust levels, curves, and then play with saturation and hue (you're distorting reality to begin with so I don't suggest being too pure in this realm.)

<P?I'll post a few images for reference and your questions
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nineinone
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« Reply #123 on: December 12, 2007, 12:51:38 AM »
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Personally, I think photography is the most "representational" of art forms, and as such, has an in-built prejudice against any abstract or unconventional visions of reality. A painter starts with a blank canvas, but the photographer starts out with a more or less well established and accepted "conventional" depiction of reality, and only in diverging from so-called "rules" like the zone system, sharp focus, etc etc does he "rebel" against what is "expected" from photography. So, to those abstract photographers out there, keep up the faith, because 9/10 people do not want/expect photographs to not look like its "supposed" to. In this sense, I think abstract photographers have something in common with the abstract expressionists, who were "rebelling" at the time against what painting was supposed to do or look like.

For me, the greatest abstract photographer of all time is Mario Giacomelli, and his landscape work is probably his best too. He threw out absolutely every single convention of what black and white photography is supposed to look like; today's digital photographers would be horrified by his clipped histograms; Ansel Adams would be turning in his grave at seeing his zone system reduced to 2 single tones!

As an abstract photographer myself, I feel more like a painter who happens to use a camera, as opposed to strictly a pure "photographer" -because while I share the same equipment as say a wedding shooter, I dont share the same intent, nor the same assumptions, nor even the same process "with" that camera.  Personally I think all truly abstract photographers are really secretly painters, LOL.
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« Reply #124 on: December 12, 2007, 03:18:17 AM »
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So, to those abstract photographers out there, keep up the faith, because 9/10 people do not want/expect photographs to not look like its "supposed" to. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=160027\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Many of the most consistently liked images in my portfolio are the abstracts. So maybe it's more a case of doing abstracts that work as images, rather than doing abstracts, just to be abstract. If that makes sense?
You still need to compose and create an image, even if it is abstract. Whereas it may be that people are taking less care when creating an abstract image, when they should possibly take even more care when creating the image. It still needs to work as an image and an abstract usually doesn't have the crutch of content to give meaning, so you need to spend more time on the composition.
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hankbenson
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« Reply #125 on: December 12, 2007, 02:13:38 PM »
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"Personally I think all truly abstract photographers are really secretly painters, LOL. "

I move freely between abstract and representational photography, but I often look at the latter in terms of form, line and color as an abstract artist does. That tendency often surprises viewers and I think it opens up creative possibilities.
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jule
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« Reply #126 on: December 12, 2007, 04:28:15 PM »
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For me, the greatest abstract photographer of all time is Mario Giacomelli, and his landscape work is probably his best too. He threw out absolutely every single convention of what black and white photography is supposed to look like;
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=160027\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I was not aware that Mario Giacomelli was known as an abstract photographer. I would be interested in seeing some of his abstract works if you could provide a link or reference where they could be found.
Julie
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Stuarte
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« Reply #127 on: February 28, 2008, 08:32:00 AM »
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This thread has had me reflecting long and hard for quite a while, which is already a great result.

I've greatly enjoyed looking at work referenced in this thread, including the original poster's online gallery.  One of the unexpected benefits for me has been a sense of liberation from (what I experience as) the tyranny of technical perfection.  The world is full of photos that meet the highest technical requirements on calendars, book covers, posters, advertisements and brochures. I salute the technical skill of the photographers, but... Looking through JMDR's galleries, the pictures that held me and stayed with me were most certainly not the most technically "correct" photos.  

Another great pleasure has been getting a real sense of a distinctive personality and vision through JMDR's words and work.  In that sense, he has been very successful in using his camera as an expressive tool.

Somewhere in this thread there's mention of photos communicating emotions.  Personally, I find the "emotions" thing a bit limiting, although that may be a matter of terminology.  For me, the question is what is the "state" elicited by a particular image?  

I find a perfectly-executed portrait or landscape or product shot generally tends to elicit what I would call a completed state; I may linger and look at the detail, I may think "that's nice" or "great shot" and I may even get excited or I may laugh, but I end up feeling that I've "got it" and moving on.  The loop of noticing, looking, processing, and understanding closes.

What interests me far more are images that elicit an incompleted state, where the loop remains open - photos that are ambiguous or don't strictly confirm to the normal criteria of technical excellence.  A photo that has the mojo evokes what feels like a (neurological) state of potential, of receptivity; I'm not just "consuming" the photo passively, and I'm just not doing a technical appraisal of it.  Somehow the photo sets off a cascade of conscious and unconscious activity, mental, emotional ... maybe even spiritual.  

More in due course.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 10:44:07 AM by Stuarte » Logged

larsrc
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« Reply #128 on: February 28, 2008, 01:44:52 PM »
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I'd like to have a discussion about the role of abstraction in landscape photography- a category that is generally highly representational.

To me it seems that, generally, abstraction takes the form of a.) isolating features to the point it's hard to tell what they are, b.) motion blur, either from subject or camera movement, or c.) use of an extremely short depth of field.  It's this 3rd type of abstraction (there could be more that I've missed here) that I've begun to experiment with, and to move past, into something I haven't seen done before.

I started to experiment with greater levels of abstraction by deliberately de-focusing the image in an effort to capture the sense of my subject, rather than the details.  These images are more about the colours, tones, contrasts, the shapes of the landscape, rather than specific details.

You can see some examples of my recent work at my online gallery.

I would love to hear any comments on my work, specifically or in general, but would also like to talk about your thoughts on this matter, hear about other photographers that used abstraction in their work, etc.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68133\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I finally got to look through your galleries, and found a) that you make a lot of really good stuff, and  that a few of the deliberately de-focused pictures work for me.  Specifically, there are two with aspen trunks where the trunk patterning comes through as the main subject, and those work.  Most of the de-focused ones just have my eyes slide off them, though.

-Lars
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MikeKeyW
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« Reply #129 on: November 21, 2008, 11:08:00 PM »
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Forgive the necro-threading but I'd like to put in my two cents. I have been an experimentalist pretty much since I first picked up a camera in the mid-60's, it really took of when I setup my first darkroom in '68, I was in the 8th grade. I quickly discovered Kodalith Ortho, Diazochrome, reticulation, sabattier effect soon entered my bag of tricks. Inspired by Man Ray and Phillipe Halsman, along with Salvador Dali and M. C. Escher, I pushed traditional views and never looked back.
I applaud anyone's efforts to push the boundaries of creative expression, often contrary to the contemporary traditionalist. In resurrecting this thread I'd like to see some more artistic manipulations of reality, not landscapes but here are some of mine:
Key West Biking

Key West get away

Flower on the porch

Up and down

Florida Mastodon

A Key West Ying-Yang
« Last Edit: November 21, 2008, 11:11:53 PM by MikeKeyW » Logged
jmdr
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« Reply #130 on: December 07, 2008, 01:53:24 AM »
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Thanks for resurrecting this thread Mike--it was a fun discussion.

I've been meaning to share the work of another photographer whose photographs I've been enjoying lately and who has inspired me to get back out there and keep making my blurry pictures. William Neill's Impressions of Light portfolio is all images produced with camera motion to create a blurred effect. His artist statement for the portfolio really resonated with my own motivations for creating this type of photograph. He wrote,


"My Goal is to remove the context, distill down to the essence,
in order to convey the energy of a subject or scene in a fresh way,
much as snow simplifies the landscape.

For me, these images deflect the mind's tendency to dwell
on the concrete issues of place and name when viewing a subject.
The spirit of a place or an object can be more strongly conveyed"


I would definitely recommend having a look through his site, he also has many terrific "traditional" landscape photographs. I purchased the ebook portfolio of the "Impressions" work, and it's just stunning (disclosure: no, I don't know him personally, or work for him, or get a commission...).

I've been continuing to play with, and develop my "blurry" work--I've recently updated my website with several new galleries (and a new design, which unfortunately broke a bunch of the links earlier in this thread). I've also decided, partially thanks to everyone here, (and despite what I suggested my initial post), that there are a near-infinite number of ways to produce abstract photography. Now, someone more clever than I may still be able to break things down into a couple categories (anyone up for a try??), but I've been enjoying exploring the whole range of techniques. Here are some examples:


some new "defocused" ones:










some of my own camera motion ones:










two blurred by subject movement:










some "Orton imagery":







and finally, some photographs made using a lens seemingly custom-built for photographers experimenting with blur--the Lensbaby:












I'd love to hear your reactions to these, or any of the newer work in my galleries. Also, can anyone suggest other photographer (professional, or otherwise) that are doing this type of work? Along with William Neill, I've mentioned Freeman Patterson and Courtney Milne earlier in this thread (although my favourite work of Milne's is no longer on his website). Any others that I should know about?

'all the best
Jonathan
« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 02:10:06 AM by jmdr » Logged

Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #131 on: December 07, 2008, 10:04:02 AM »
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Jmdr:
The fourth one down works great for me. Quite dazzling. Number 7 is also effective. I'm afraid I find most of the rest somewhat disturbing, as they remind me of what the world looks like when I take my @#$%& glasses off! For me, numbers 4 and 7 have a 'sense' of sharpness, or at least of showing the image's 'essence' clearly, which the others don't quite have. This may just be me (or me and my confounded glasses). But I think you are onto something good. Keep at it.
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Diamond D
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« Reply #132 on: December 16, 2008, 05:04:22 PM »
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Hi all, this is my first post here, in fact I registered to reply to this interesting thread. I've enjoyed reading the opinions here and looking at some of the photos. In the previous post, I particularly like the one of the birds in flight.

Reading this thread brought to mind a few images I have taken recently, when I was really thinking about a "feeling" rather than an image.

The first is driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway in fall, we were in a thick forest and both sides of the road were just oceans of flowing color





Obviously these are less "abstract" than some of the others posted here, but to me the blur does a much better job of capturing what I saw than any static composition.


More recently, I was shooting the local Christmas display, and took this defocused shot



To me it says "Christmas" (or at least "Winter") without being tied down by scenery or location.

This one also has gotten some positive feedback. It's actually the reflection of Christmas lights on a water tower in a man-made water feature in a long exposure.

« Last Edit: December 16, 2008, 06:07:09 PM by Diamond D » Logged
Philip Weber
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« Reply #133 on: January 02, 2009, 05:41:14 PM »
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Also, can anyone suggest other photographer (professional, or otherwise) that are doing this type of work? Along with William Neill, I've mentioned Freeman Patterson and earlier in this thread (although my favourite work of Milne's is no longer on his website). Any others that I should know about?

'all the best
Jonathan



Check out the work by Tony Sweet. He has quite a bit of this type of photography (especially in his Macro work) as well as some great HDR images. It's not everyone's cup of tea but if one is interested in this type of stuff, Tony is well worth checking out.

Phil
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 05:42:10 PM by Philip Weber » Logged
John R
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« Reply #134 on: January 05, 2009, 09:55:03 AM »
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I like this subject as I am fond of shooting abstracts, or what I call interpretive images. we abstract everything, including any decision to shoot simple doicmentary photos, of say a house. I include a different examples of the current technique under discussion. When doing this type of camera movement, it is best to use tripod or at least brace yourself. Shoot manual at about 1/15 sec or slower. Shoot in overcast lighting whenever possible. Try to avoid any white or light areas, such as sky, unless you think this will be benefical to your image. In my experience, white areas when panning or moving camera during exposure seldom produces good images.

The first is a good attempt but I think should be softer and more abstract; notice anything whitish (grasses) draws attention to itself
The second is a crop with sky cropped out (white streaks), but I think has been successfully cropped.
The third is pretty good

Hope this helps.

John R - http://lusalight.smugmug.com/
« Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 01:09:06 PM by John R » Logged
John R
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« Reply #135 on: January 05, 2009, 12:36:51 PM »
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check out this one: http://www.stephenpatterson.com/

John R
« Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 12:39:03 PM by John R » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #136 on: January 05, 2009, 04:43:44 PM »
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Quote from: John R
I like this subject as I am fond of shooting abstracts, or what I call interpretive images. we abstract everything, including any decision to shoot simple doicmentary photos, of say a house. I include a different examples of the current technique under discussion. When doing this type of camera movement, it is best to use tripod or at least brace yourself. Shoot manual at about 1/15 sec or slower. Shoot in overcast lighting whenever possible. Try to avoid any white or light areas, such as sky, unless you think this will be benefical to your image. In my experience, white areas when panning or moving camera during exposure seldom produces good images.

The first is a good attempt but I think should be softer and more abstract; notice anything whitish (grasses) draws attention to itself
The second is a crop with sky cropped out (white streaks), but I think has been successfully cropped.
The third is pretty good

Hope this helps.

John R - http://lusalight.smugmug.com/
John: Those are very nice!
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John R
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« Reply #137 on: January 05, 2009, 06:36:44 PM »
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Quote from: EricM
John: Those are very nice!
Thanks Eric. It goes without saying, that is only one technique to achieve interpretive images. Just being aware of your surroundings and being able to see ordinary things in new or extraordinary ways, is still the best way to create good images.

John R
« Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 06:37:36 PM by John R » Logged
ChrisS
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« Reply #138 on: January 20, 2009, 04:26:21 PM »
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I enjoyed reading this thread. Two thoughts came to mind (sorry if they've already been mentioned  - I could easily have missed them).

First, many accounts of the development of painting toward abstraction tell how photography displaced painting's conventional 'representational' role, allowing/ forcing painting to become more 'philosophical', and eventually abstract. It's kind of ironic (I think) that photography should have followed painting down this route.

Second, the works of Gerhard Richter (quite diverse, so have a look at a range of them) develop the relation of painting to photography, and abstraction in particular, in ways that relate to issues developed in this thread.

Chris


[attachment=11017:_MG_3272.jpg]

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John R
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« Reply #139 on: January 20, 2009, 08:55:27 PM »
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Quote from: ChrisS
I enjoyed reading this thread. Two thoughts came to mind (sorry if they've already been mentioned  - I could easily have missed them).

First, many accounts of the development of painting toward abstraction tell how photography displaced painting's conventional 'representational' role, allowing/ forcing painting to become more 'philosophical', and eventually abstract. It's kind of ironic (I think) that photography should have followed painting down this route.

Second, the works of Gerhard Richter (quite diverse, so have a look at a range of them) develop the relation of painting to photography, and abstraction in particular, in ways that relate to issues developed in this thread.

Chris
I really like that shot Chris. I will say this, no matter how abstract a photo or painting, if people can't relate to it, it will remain unnoticed. To me this means, however slight, there has to be some representation present in order for people to relate to the work, even if the artist claims otherwise.

JMR
« Last Edit: January 21, 2009, 12:32:23 PM by John R » Logged
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