Friday, 18 January 2013

Abstract Photographs

At what point does a photograph become abstract?  There is no fixed answer to this question, it is rather a matter of degrees.  It could be said that all photos are abstract because they only show a part of the scene in front of us and are two dimensional.  For our purposes we would want to take things a little further and remove enough information from a scene so that it is either ambiguous or unrecognisable.  We can do this by composition and the removal or modification of colour.

It is a matter of our personal taste how far we push the process of abstraction.  For instance I like to remove colour or reduce it's saturation.  On the other hand modifying colour, by switching colours or increasing saturation rarely produces a pleasing effect to my eye,

Composition is the strongest means of producing abstraction.  We take a scene and isolate elements that are of interest to us paying particular attention to how those elements relate to each other.  This isolation removes context; when there is no context it is often difficult to judge at what we are looking.

Here are a couple of example shots.  The first is the face of a building with no reference to the ground on which it stands.  The profile of the building against the sky is interesting as is the texture of the building.  In this case the picture is monochrome but in reality the only colour was that of the sky, the building is grey.

The next example is of the same building but this time the composition excluded the sky and the camera was rotated to remove vertical reference.  Now the object becomes more difficult to identify and if you look at it for a while the face on which the windows are located can be switched from one plane to another by our perception of the scene.

I find this process enormously entertaining; the wealth of such subject all around is is staggering.


  1. starting to look good Jan! Great pics! Giovanni

  2. Thanks Giovanni, lots more to come yet.