May 30, 2010

Rotating Trees

I've shown what you can achieve through rotating the camera around the lens-axis in one of my earliest posts. I gave this technique another try with a tree whose structure seemed to be quite adequate for it.

Fractal Tree:
Fractal Tree 23377
Shot with a 50mm lens at f/16, 1/4 sec

Through the rotation the details of the tree are veiled and the Gestalt/character of it brought forward.

May 13, 2010

Abstract Reality

This is a fun thing to discover: That even without any tricks you can create photos that look abstract. It is just depending on your subject and the framing. If you look at this post you can find two examples with man-mode objects.
Let me now give you another two examples from natural subjects:

Rule of Thirds:
Rule of Thirds 25104

If you want to know what that is, click through the image to the flickr page and the see the comments there...

Ripples 11177

This is just the bark of a large tree.

So even photographs of natural subjects can look quite abstract.
Some fine examples come from photographer Bernd Uhde who produced some stunning aerial shots of the earth from baloons or planes. His book "AirRealArt - Ansichten Aufsichten" has many examples where you would have never guessed how this image was shot.

Hommage a trois (3b): David Hockney

Thinking a bit more about my failure to find a "Hockneyish" reference in my own photographs, I stumbled across an older image that picks up on at least three aspects of his work
- it's huge: the original has almost 50 Mega-pixels and could easily be printed 3m high at 80 dpi
- it's stiched: a vertical panorama made from five single shots
- it's about trees and woods

Vertical Pano 2

I applied some tweaks to colors and contrast to abstractify the trees a little and emphasize the glow of the snow-white light. Stitching was done in PS4 with the photomerge function which gives a nice reference to the name of my blog: The image was produced by rotating the camera vertically for each shot taken and merging them together in post.
Thus: RotoMerge.

If you want to know how David Hockney "completed his biggest ever painting", have a look at this article.

May 11, 2010

Hommage a trois (4): Viggo Mortensen

Gotcha! You never thought that a hommage a trois could possibly refer to four artists, right? Well yes, it happened, after I skipped David Hockney and remembered the influence and inspiration that Viggo Mortensen gave.
So this post is just a place-holder for the work I'd like to show here and which will be uploaded soon.
I'll be back after a short break...

Hommage a trois (3): David Hockney

Weeeeeelll, I admit: I have no idea which of my photos picks up some theme/ideas/tricks from David Hockney.
But I'll scan the monograph on him once again...

---3 minutes later---

Aaah, while looking for the monograph on David Hockney I stumbled across another artist that my wife and me find very interesting: Viggo Mortensen of "Lord of the Rings" fame! Did you know that he is a painter and photography artist?

I have his books "Skovbo" with some very inspiring photographs of woods, also "Sign Language" and "Coincidence of Memory". For his artisitic (non-film) work have a look here and for his books there.

It was Viggo Mortensens photographs in the Miyelo series and his take on forests that somehow inspired me or my series on "one second shots". I'll show you some of the results in my next post.

See you!

May 09, 2010

Hommage a trois (2): Peter Doig

Peter Doig impressed me with his "blotting technique". He uses it to add structure and light to many of his images, like the blots of light in his cabin-series or to add some foreground like falling snow like in his image "Blotter". I remember an image where he almost hid the scene behind a curtain of blots or streaks. This adds a nice layer of abstraction to an image but also can have the effect of pulling the observer in - because you try harder to look through the front-layer.

My tribute to his technique is this
Night Tree:
Night Tree 21030

I only used a gradient mask to desaturate the colors at the bottom and make the night-sky blue. But other than that there is not much post-processing going on in this image.
It is a photograph of ice on a canal with a tree-like crack in it and blotches of snow.


Hommage a trois (1): Georg Baselitz

Well, Georg Baselitz is certainly not into geometric abstraction, but his famous trick was applied here: turn everything upside down.

Hommage a Baselitz 20822

And when you look closely at the lower left corner you can see my reference to this famous artist.
(As always: clicking through the image to the flickr-page and then selecting "All Sizes" gives you the chance to view this image larger)

May 08, 2010

Hommage a trois

I've been touching on abstract paintings and how I found some inspiration there.

In recent years I visited exhibitions of three modern painters:
- David Hockney: Images
- Peter Doig: Images
- Georg Baselitz: Images

Hockney is certainly the artist most closely linked to photography as he worked with photocollage, used photos as originals for his paintings, and played with perspective that seems clearly inspired by photography. I was also astonished seeing some of his larger works assembled from a multitude of canvasses, thus "stitching" huge vistas together. As a corollary his art is not too abstract as you can easily identify the subject of his images.

Doig has clearly some "photographic" influence in his work esp. with regard to light and shadow. I like his series "Concrete cabin" (see one from this series here) where the bright sunlight blotches the trees of a dense forest and a glaringly white concrete building is shining through the wood.

Baselitz perhaps is the odd artist here with regard to photography, but he is famous for his style of painting his subjects upside down and thus giving the observer a fresh perspective. This is somethings that works equally well in photography and is not even easy to detect: I once saw an abstract photography that was obviously based on wave-patterns on water. The artist had turned the image upside down and he admitted that I was the only one remarking on his trick.

May 07, 2010

Abstractification through B&W: Is it a conversion?

have a look at this photo:

Snowtrees 21311

What's your bet: is it reproduced in (its natural) color(s) or is it a b&w conversion?
Well, I can tell you: there is not much of a difference here. This image was "converted" to b&w but it looked almost the same in color (after application of a suitable white-balance).
This is (again) a case where the artificial abstractification only emphasizes what is already in the picture. I think this is a major point if you like to abstractify photos without "overdoing" it.

The other interesting observation is the absence of gray. There is not much gray in the original image and I used no curves to separate blacks and whites any stronger. The only post-processing apart from the b&w-conversion was setting the blackpoint at around 64 (255 = white)

May 04, 2010

Lenses, Reviews

Yeah, hardware is what makes a photo, right?
Well - at least lenses are necessary*. But not sufficient to take good photos.
That's why I'll delve no deeper into this subject here than to direct you to some of my reviews at Camera Labs:
Nikon lenses
Sigma lenses
Tamron lenses
Tokina AT-XD 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 review

So if you ever wonder what I think of the lenses I use and those lenses I gave back/sold, have a look over there...

* unless you take photos without a lens

May 02, 2010

(Curved) Glass and Patterns

Here are two examples I captured in Auckland. What astonished me most was the distorted reflections in the windows of the high-rise. This is an indicator of how curved the glass was and adds a nice layer of abstraction to this images.

Glasshouse 1773

Reflections 1651b

Two Examples of Geometric Abstraction

If you look for it you can find some opportunities for creating (semi-)abstract images without the need to rely on any post-processing, reality-modifiers or camera-tricks. It's what I call abstract reality.
What do you need for this? Well, just the right subject, an interesting angle of view and the right framing. It works on the brain simply by taking away the 3rd dimension plus any well known reference-subjects depriving us of the sense of size and perspective. There are some classical examples from macro-photography, but the following image shows that extraordinary magnification is not necessary.

Rhythm 22716

If you recognize what this structure is the image does not seem too abstract at all. But I bet you did not often had a view like that. So how long did you take to identify this structure?

Here's another, very obviously called Grid:
Grid 24995

I used b&w-conversion here to strengthen the sense of abstraction. I find myself often combining different methods for abstractification to achieve a greater overall effect. And it seems that certain images lend themselves more to one or the other method of abstractification but I have to think a little more about it and find some good examples (mental note to myself: reserve for future article)

Btw.: It is mere chance that both images are of man-made objects who's regularity lends the images a strong sense of geometry and pattern. So remembering my article About Abstract Art you could classify this as "geometric abstraction". Trying this with a natural subject tends to produce images more of the "lyrical abstraction" kind.

And another remark: Pattern can make for very interesting images, even if used in a very realistic context. A nice example is the winning image of the "CORRIDOR" challenge over at Nikongear. I'll come back to this in another post, combining reflections and pattern in high-rise buildings.

May 01, 2010

Abstractification through Camera Movement

Now today is the 1st of May and we should celebrate this with some colorful flowers, shouldn't we?

Here's an image of a rose I like very much:

Rose 13426

I shot this with a 400mm lens at f/32, 1/6 sec, ISO 200. The 1/6 sec together with the large magnification of the lens allowed me to produce quite some motion-blur when I tried various camera-movements. The trick is to find the right movement that fits with the natural structure of your subject. In this case it was some sort of "drop-shift".
There is very little post-processing in this image. Just contrast enhancement plus some color-tweaking, as this technique reduces contrast and saturation.

When you look at the long exposure times you need in this kind of shot under bright sunlight you need one or more of the following:
- lens that can stop down to f/22, better f/32
- lowest camera-ISO of 200, better 100
- Neutral density filter (I did this without)
I've done most of my work of this kind hand-held with shutter speeds between 1/8 sec and 1 sec