November 30, 2012

Back to orange

The thing with rusty metal is that it creates beautiful orange colors. So I revisited one of my favorite installations at the old King Ludwig Canal near Nuremberg. The autumn sun was shining bright and brought out all the lovely shades of orange on this sculpture. My goal was to render it as "flat" as possible to take the three-dimensionality away. So I went for 200mm focal length at f11 - and if I had a tripod with me I would have even gone to f16 or f22 to eliminate any hint of dof.
I just wanted color and some simple geometry combined with an interesting texture.

Three Orange Spheres 60595

November 25, 2012

Rhythm in black and white

These are some of the ugliest places in a wood that I know of: a coniferous forest where spruces were planted much too tight and have grown over the years to form a dull and uniform looking thicket.
But nonetheless there are photographic opportunities to be had and one of those image I shot today shows the rhythmic aspect of such a wood.

Rhythm 60572

Just click through the image to get "the bigger picture" ;-)

November 05, 2012

Abstract trees - again!

Well, you already know that trees are one of my favorite subjects for photography - simply choose "Use keyword search!" on the right and click on "trees"!*
But today is not about the tree in photography but in paintings. Visiting the new Pinakothek this weekend I came across two fascinating examples of trees: One by Max Ernst:

Max Ernst 60450

Of which I only show a small crop here to give you an impression of how the artist "did it". Fascinating, isn't it?
The other is by Vincent van Gogh, also only a small crop that shows the brush strokes and makes the trees look more abstract than from a normal viewing distance:

 Vincent van Gogh 60472

Click through the images to access the large original crops.

I don't know yet what I will take away for my photography of trees and landscapes, but I find it always interesting to see how abstractification works in different media.
*You could also simply click on the tag "Tress" below this post :)

November 04, 2012

Abstract Staircase?

Well, staircases are easily identifiable, so to do an "abstract staircase" in photography people normally choose special vantage points: with spiral staircases e.g. centered from below/bottom or from above to emphasize the geometry. Or show a section of the stairs from a perspective that dissolves the steps into a pattern of lines that belie their origin. When shooting the staircase in the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich today I was simply fascinated by the view of the stairs overhead and chose a vantage point where you could see the handrails and a platform but no stairs at the bottom. That produced the impression of a disjointed staircase further emphasized by the contrast between the white stairs above and the dark colors of the handrail and the platform below - and the absence of people which normally give you orientation and a feeling for the size of things. Treppenhaus_60443 You can easily increase the "strangeness" of this image by turning it 90 degrees counterclockwise which makes the whole thing look like a tunnel with a white floor and overhead lighting. Only that the railing at the floor and the ceiling look strange... Anyway: I have to admit that this staircase is not really very abstract. But a good architect and a strong geometry always makes for interesting perspectives and subjects to shoot!

October 21, 2012

Abstract Nature

Today was one of those typical misty autumn days. I went out with the agenda of capturing "fading colors". Went home not satisfied with the "catch of the day" - but I needed to look closer and change my angle of view a bit. Found this in one of my shots and did some subtle post-processing to enhance the features of the shot. I also decided to frame it square, not only because on G+ today is #squaresunday (curated by +Tom Golson and +Ken McMahon) but because I love the neutrality of the format: it's neither "landscape" nor "portrait" so is gives little indication as to what subject you're looking at. This came in handy when I created today's abstract in yellow. You cannot immediately judge whether you're looking at a tall object or a wide one - which adds to the abstracness of the image. So here it is. And I hope you like it, the colors, the textures... Abstract 50268

October 02, 2012

Abstract paintings and geometry

When visiting the day of the open studio "auf AEG" in Nuremberg I came across Gerhard Kij's studio with lots of very interesting abstracts like the following one:

Gerhard Kij 59807

It's rich with many details that make you want to wander through the image taking it all in, but it is not too wild regarding colors and it has an inherent geometric structure that makes you think of something derived from real-world architecture. The interesting thing was that next to this image hung a painting that was clearly "based" on some realistic tunnel or similar building. So somehow this image spoke to me as a photographer as it had some likeness to scenes I'd love to shoot.

Could or would I make a photo like Gerhad Kij's image? Certainly not! But it is interesting to see abstract paintings borrowing from real-world geometry. Which in turn means that us photographers should not let us keep from achieving abstraction only because our forms mostly come from well-known real-world subjects.

Visit the artist's website at

September 29, 2012

An Artist's Palette

Fascinating how artists' palettes look like! I had the opportunity to have a look into some studios last weekend, when "auf AEG" opened the door. Palettes are the abstracts of any (painting) artist's images - because they only contain the colors of their images! And sometimes not even that: because the process of creating the color of an image is often done on the canvas and not on the palette.
Anyway I was intrigued by the palette of Anna Bittersohl and gave it a try: one of the colors alone and one showing them in the context of painting with brushes in the foreground. Still pretty abstract.

An Artist's Palette 59823

Painting 59829

If you're interested in what Anna Bittersohl produced with those colors visit her website and go to her work from 2012.

September 25, 2012

And visit "auf AEG"!

If you're into modern art and live in the vicinity of Nuremberg/Erlangen/Fürth you should visit "auf AEG" until October 7th the latest. We spent 6 hours last Sunday because the studios of the artists were open and still did not see everything: Gigantic!
Some of the artists are into photography but I found that also many modern painters can give us photogs some relevant and interesting view on ... well, viewing, and abstracticism!
There's also a photographic exhibition just across the street "auf Quelle" about the "Waldrand" (the edges and borders of woods/forests). I'm certainly going to visit this one as trees and woods are one of my most favorite subjects. And it's open until October 20th.
So hurry while you can ;-)
Here's the website to tell you everything about "auf AEG"

July 29, 2012

Visit Sabine Richter

Just came back from an Exhibition of Sabine Richter's photography work at the Kunst Galerie Fürth. Very nice work that borders on the abstract and/or painterly. Sabine Richter does the trick primarily by carefully selecting the subject (mostly architecture), the perspective and the frame. Very inspiring! You can see here work for another week until August 5th, or visit here Web-page

March 25, 2012

Ah, finally!

I cannot say that I'm constantly on the outlook for abstract images, but this afternoon something caught my eye at the wall in our staircase: The sun was shining through a window above and painted some light on the wall. A simple tryptich with just a faint hint of spectral colors. Got my cam, framed the shot and went back to the computer immediately as it was clear that without some amount of post-processing there would be no relevant image.
Boy was I right after some tweaking!
See for yourself what turned up in Lightroom after some judicious adjustments:

Abstract Palette 34605

Hope you like it!

February 21, 2012

Post #100

Well, just found out that this would be my 100th post on my blog dedicated to the abstract in photography.
So let's put away with lens-testing or with a little out-of-focus play and celebrate this with a suitably abstract image, aptly named


Transfiguration 34422

Now with me being a lens-tester and all everybody expects me to shoot brick-walls, hehe! But there are much more interesting targets: Siemens-stars for lens-testing and reflectively tiled walls for self-portraits. Yes, believe it or not, this is a "selfy" :)
Had to do some tweaking of the contrast with curves and remove some distracting blotches. But other than that it's almost straight out of the camera.

February 11, 2012

Shadow of a Tree

Today the low winter sun was just in the right position to project the image of a tree onto a white wall. An interesting transformation of the living, growing tree into a flat two-toned abstract structure. Well, isn't photography all about making things flat and two-dimensional? Yes! And I could have drained the colors out of the image, too? Yes! But it would still be a sharp rendering of a tree in b&w (or any two-tonedness that you can do in post-processing). Further blurring could be applied etc., etc.
Personally I like and look for abstracts sooc (straight out of [the] camera), well perhaps not straight because with many abstracts out of the camera the need to do something regarding contrast and colors is often higher than with realistic images. So let's say I like "abstracts out of [the] camera" (aooc) ;-)
It challenges you to find or produce them in the field and not play around with too many tools in the post-processing software of your choice. Tools for me at least pose sooo many options that I can hardly decide which transformations are leading towards an interesting or even good image, and which are just leading to random deformations without any sense.

Shadow of a lonely Tree:
Shadow 34241
Interestingly, despite the transformation of the tree being quite stark (3D->2D, colors->two tones, sharp->blurred, full image->crop) it is still easy to recognize it for a tree. This is on one side testament to the capabilities of our brains and on the other hand is proof of the unique form of trees.

February 04, 2012

Sled dogs

Now that winter combines icy temperatures and bright sunshine, I'm thinking back to the sled dog race in January. Those dogs where so eager to "pull it off" that even after a few kilometers pulling us around the track they still strain against their harnesses to race another round.
Below is one of the teams waiting for the next lap.
Leitwolf 34127

Not much in this image qualifies it for a blog about "the abstract" in photography apart from the limited dof the f2.8 aperture produced. Which develops quite nicely along the figures standing in the background and shrouds them (and their distracting details) in a cloud of oof-smoothness. Focus on the sled dogs.

January 09, 2012

Lens testing, lens testing, lens testing - again!

If you wonder, why it's (again) a little slow on my blog:
I've been testing the new Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G lens, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR, and the Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR for Camera Labs. Plus finally drawing up a big comparison of those results.
Pretty interesting stuff for myself as it is the first time ever that I used a DIY test-target captured on 24x36 mm ISO 50 black&white negative film Ilford Pan F plus for testing the lenses at magnifications of 1:2.6
You can easily jump to all my lens reviews and comparisons through this page.

And now that Nikon has announced the new AF-S 85/1.8G lens I'll sure be doing some further lens-testing soon...