December 14, 2014

Inverted Inversion

I finally did my first test of an idea, that I was entertaining for some time now: What would the world look upside-down?
So I took a shot with nice turbulent clouds, flipped it upside-down and then inverted the curve to make the bright sky (now at the bottom) look like a dark sea and convert the land into a bright (in this case featureless) sky.
So it's a sort of double inversion - hence the title.
Naturally I had to work with some white-balance tweaks and other manipulations to get the colors up where I wanted them, and that's it.
Unfortunately the power-line gives away the game, but I left it in for two reasons: I was to lazy to clone it out and I wanted at least one clue to remain in the image so that you can find-out for yourself what the original image was.

Enjoy - and expect me to follow up on this idea!

Sea_of_Clouds_79889

October 11, 2014

Abstract Selfy

Was experimenting with long-time exposure again - this time in front of a mirror. And naturally moving the camera. On one side it was easier than doing those shots outdoor in bright sunlight as it was no problem to get exposures of 4 to 20 seconds by simply stopping down to f16. But the effect was harder to predict as there was much more time to move the camera and blur the image. And I was not even keeping the camera to my eye during the shot so I had not much control of what it was pointing at and what the camera was seeing.
Some shots came out pretty ghostly with me being half transparent.  Pretty interesting indeed if the background on those ones were not so cluttered. So I picked this one which benefited from using a 135mm lens to isolate myself from the background.
Enjoy!

Abstract Selfy 72376

September 24, 2014

Another abstract one from Till Augustin

Till Augustin is working with glass in ways I've never seen before and this work has an intrinsic appeal to me. Perhaps it's the duality of the raw glass that he works with and the refined glass that finds its way into optical lenses on my camera...
Be that as it may: this work of him caught my eye and after doing a pretty boring shot angled from slightly above I caught this one that really shows off the beauty of this object:

Till_Augustin_70650

Now: this is really abstract!

September 21, 2014

"Auf AEG" again: 2014!

Really, really interesting for all lovers of contemporary art and photography: this weekend was the start but many exhibits and ateliers of the artists can be visited next weekane (27.+28 Sep) too and some are open until Oct. 5th. For more information see here or there.
Fpr photographers there is f/stop (hall 15, don't miss the upper floor!) and the Akademie Galerie by Jürgen Teller & students (hall 13).

Highly recommended!

See an exhibit from one of my favorite artists, Till Augustin. He's mainly working with glass, rust and steel cables.

Till Augustin 70651


September 18, 2014

Is it minimal?

That was really hard work: reading Michael Fried's "Why photography matters as art as never before". But the most interesting part to me were the photos that he selected to make his point about "theatricality". The Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto features quite prominently in Fried's book with two appearances:
  1. Sugimoto's interior shots of film theaters only illuminated by the film projected on the screen - with the added twist that the exposure ran through the entire length of the film.
  2. Sugimoto's "Seascapes" showing black & white shots of the sea with the horizon dividing the image in halve.
The latter images immediately appealed to me in that they are really pretty abstract in their total reduction of color and form. Those images inspired me to see what I can get with a similar setup. I chose some place at the North Sea and used the same lens, same focal length, same position but shot at different times. With the ever changing weather and light being the only variables - and the wind creating more or less waves.

Here's one of the most minimalistic shots I've (ever) captured with the morning mist obscuring the horizon, so even the line that normally defines the horizon is missing from this shot: It's only different shades of gray and some random wave patterns.

After Sugimoto 1 70039

If you 'd like to see all shots from this series, head over here. And don't fret: all of them are less minimalistic than the image above ;-)

July 20, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action!

Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Suppose you shoot a whole movie in a single frame?" (Michael Fried, "Why Photography matters as Art as never before", p.5) probably led me to reconsider my earlier attempts to do one second shots. But not as long exposure stills! I did some experimenting with moving the camera during the one second exposure earlier (see e.g. my post "one second").
What do you need as a prerequisite?
  • Lights: They need to be dimmed down before hitting the sensor. So anything that helps you get down to a 1 sec exposure, like shooting in dusk/dawn, using an 8xND filter, or a lens that can stop down to f40 is helpful. As I was trying to shoot in bright sunlight I needed using an 8xND filter + stopping down to f40! Why the one second? Well, anything shorter makes it extremely hard to exert any kind of manual control over the movement of the camera. But you may well use longer exposure.
  • Camera: You can use any camera. Just remember you probably need to mount a strong ND-filter to your lens and stop it down farther than f11. Plus, better make sure your sensor is clean, otherwise all the dust will be exposed when closing the lens to its minimum aperture.
  • Action: Simply move your camera in any way during exposure. And be patient: The results vary quite a bit depending on what you do. So you need to experiment and get a feeling for which movements create which effect (e.g. angling the camera down vs. angling it up). Don't bother when you have to throw 95% of the shots away. Practice, practice, practice. With time you get a pretty good feeling for what works and what not.
  • Tripod? Not necessarily! The set of images referred to above were shot free-hand. But for certain effects a tripod can be very helpful indeed. E.g. for rotating around the optical axis.
  • B.t.w.: I prefer a bright subject with dark surroundings. When you move the camera you "paint" the photons of the brighter subject over the adjacent areas. If those areas are bright themselves you simply get a low-contrast mish-mash that doesn't look too attractive.
The following shot was done from a tripod during vertical movement so the blur-lines are very straight and make a nice contrast to the wild blossoms of the begonia. I timed my movement so that it started approximately in the middle of the exposure to get the well-defined core overlaid with the stripes:

 Striped_Begonia_79511

Btw.: Hiroshi Sugimoto answered his own question by shooting inside cinemas opening the shutter of his camera at the beginning of the film and closing it when the film ended. So in the end there was not much of the movie in his stills (but a white screen) but the movie theater was illuminated and produced a ghostly image of the interior. One of those images can be seen here. Read this wikipedia article to learn more about his work.

April 15, 2014

It's like Sculpture

...is the title of a post from Ken Rockwell that perfectly fits my last from Kit White. Ken goes on to say:
"Ask a sculptor, and he'll tell you that sculpture is simple. All you do is chip away all that isn't part of what you're trying to sculpt. Simply take away all the stone that isn't what you need, and you're done.
Photography is the same. You have to work diligently to remove everything from your picture that isn't part of the picture. Remove all distractions and anything and everything that isn't directly related to telling the story you're trying to tell, and when you've removed every distracting or unrelated element, your masterpiece is complete.
Photography, like sculpture, is completely backwards from painting. In painting, you start with a blank canvas and add only what is needed. In sculpture you start with a large block, and remove all that isn't needed. Likewise a camera sees everything, and it's the photographer's duty to move around, get closer and remove everything that isn't contributing to his image."

So what Ken is saying is: "Eliminate the nonessential"! The really tough question here is: What is essential to your image and what not.
My thoughts: If you eliminate enough from a photograph you might end up with an abstract - once enough references to reality are removed from the image to make it recognizable.
Like the persons in front of the sculpture that give the observer a good reference to judge the height of it, or the view of the building in the background that supplies the beholder of the image with a reference of the setting. See the following image:

Outlook  77344