It is always a challenge for me to look beyond the scene in front of my camera to see what else is there. However, when I take the time to go deeper and search for the what else, I have the chance to make photographs that are unique and have greater impact.
Abstraction — removing something from its frame of reference — is one way that I attempt to go beyond the obvious. Here are three examples of that approach.
Reflections that warp reality are ready-made abstractions. In this photograph, the curved and polished glass walls of Boston’s Intercontinental Hotel turn the reflected skyline into a colorful, abstract cityscape. I have a large print of this photograph in my living room, and I never tire of looking at it.
This photograph is an example of a literal abstraction — a small detail excised from a larger scene. Skogafoss is one of the most famous and most-photographed waterfalls in Iceland, so it is difficult to make a photograph of the entire waterfall in its context that is not a cliché. Here, I used a telephoto lens to isolate just part of the face of the waterfall. No longer recognizable as Skogafoss, this image nevertheless portrays the power of the falling water that is for me the essence of the Skogafoss experience.
Intentional Camera Movement
I am fascinated by the different ways that long exposure photography alters our perception of time. We typically think of long exposure as a way to portray the movement of subjects — we put the camera on a tripod, open the shutter for seconds or even minutes, and record the movement of clouds, stars or flowing water. However, holding the shutter open while moving the camera produces different results and leads to new kinds of abstractions. Here, I photographed marsh grass at Paine’s Creek on Cape Cod using a ~1 sec exposure while moving the camera in a horizontal “swipe.” The resulting image is painterly in its lack of sharp detail, yet it evokes for me a sense of the place.
I have collected some of my favorite photographic abstractions in this new gallery. I hope you enjoy them!