Apart from the main task I also worked on an alternative project, related to transformation of photography into abstract art. I wrote about it in my previous blog post Photography as Art.
For this purpose I tried to focus on textures, patterns and architectural features like doors for example. I was drawn to the old, weathered features like peeling paint and cracked render. They are full of character and very interesting to study as abstract subjects. I like the organic and random nature of shapes and textures it creates. Especially if juxtaposed next to square, rectangular and perfect circles of man-made objects. Luckily, while in Corsica I was presented with the abundance of the above, thanks to the local harsh climate and general distrust of local population to everything that’s new.
There are some select test shots for a potential project:
After presenting in the class and getting feedback from our tutor Zig, I narrowed the selection to following six pictures:
I think they look fine especially the first two. The texture and play of light and shadows are nice. Light skimming the surface from the side accentuates all undulations and imperfection of the render. Missing chunks of render add to the organic and unhurried feel of nature taking its time. And so it goes.
Im quite pleased with the images and I think there is potential in them. I suppose they would look good in black and white. But they were too literal, a document of a particular place at a particular time. I wold like to transform them into something more abstract and surreal. So after the first round of post-processing in Lightroom I arrived at this look:
I liked the effect, but still too bland. Next step, and final (.tiff in Alien Skin) rendered this look:
I think overall effect is better. Colours are more vivid and there is more contrast. Light leaks add to the surreal effect. Sense of time and place is even more distorted as was my intention. I tried to keep the same colour scheme to make them form a series, but varied so each one is slightly different and more interesting.
I had both sets of processed pictures printed. To test different printing outcomes I ordered first set in lustre (matt) finish and second in gloss. Initially I thought that matt finish would lend itself to the painterly effect and muted tones of the first set. But upon receiving the prints I was disappointed how flat and uninteresting they looked. Perhaps if printed on a proper fine art paper like velvet or silk it would look better. Something to try later.
On the other hand, second set with more vivid colours came out beautifully on a gloss photographic finish. The prints are full of depth, contrast is crunchy and colours inviting. The only mistake I noticed is the second print that came a little bit too dark. I suppose this is partly due to the texture applied in Alien Skin, that darkened the whole composition and I forgot to compensate for it. It just goes to show that there is no substitute to printing the work and judging it with your own eyes rather that staring at the computer screen for hours! (unless the outcome is digital only).
Finally the prints I ordered were rather small (7,5×5) just proofs really. If this was to become the main project I would have to order bigger versions to do it justice and perhaps try a few different finishes.
Although I like all the pictures in the series, the first one really encapsulates the inspiration behind the whole project. It is most abstract. With a bit of imagination you can see scratches on the surface as artist’s brush paint strokes. There is order and randomness. Square and organic patters. Finally colour treatment really worked rendering the whole composition in red and blue-ish hues reminiscent of abstract expressionists painting. It can be looked at upside down or sideways and no-one would be any wiser.
But not everything is so rosy. It is surprisingly difficult to photograph a really good abstraction. I seemed so easy when I was listening to Art Wolfe talking about it on Creative Live and showing his examples. Just isolate, turn upside down, crop and go crazy in post processing to arrive at strong, graphical composition. Its all very well and true, but what it takes is lifetime of looking at art to learn to see art in mundane and then extract it. He took his inspiration from paintings and cited Ernst Hass as his biggest influence. I think it is wise to seek inspiration in primary sources and constantly build a library of visual content to draw from when the opportunity presents itself.
Finally the thorny issue of post processing. Some people shrug at the mention of it, some love to use Photoshop to the extreme. I think post-processing is the integral part of photographic process. Not as a way of rescuing badly taken pictures, but as a way of making really good ones slightly better. Having the knowledge of what can be done post-capture can inform the way the picture is taken and greatly enhance the chance of producing good results in the end. For this very reason I will need to work on my skills in the area further.
Assignment criteria: 2,3,4,5