I was beginning to think that the ice images were done for the year. Things have been warming up here in Philadelphia, and there is less and less of the stuff around. After today’s weather, the type that tends to grant amnesty for seasonal affective disorder and make one love life, I’m not sure there’s any of it around at all.
But I did get to spend the weekend up in Connecticut, where winter is still exerting itself…some would say to excess, I would say to wonderful aesthetic success. My parents have a brook that runs behind their house, and it plays host to a family of beavers whose dam floods sizable area of the property. Of course, that freezes, and does so in a a variety of intriguing ways. Ample opportunities to walk around staring at the ground through glass, and getting my socks wet.
I’ve tried to get in the habit of writing up my entries here at the same time each day, to get into a routine and because that’s when my daughter is sleeping and therefore not trying to lick the computer. But on Friday, I was sat on a jury that will be hearing a case for the next seven to ten days, and that pretty much shoots the idea of writing when my daughter is not around to lick the computer. The only other choice? Late evening, after dinner and bedtime.
Here, I’m back to some ice images, and I think this one is a bit reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, from 1952.
One thing is certain, working on these abstract images: when unburdened of the need to accurately represent color, some very interesting things can be done with just the Vibrance slider in Lightroom. That slider will adjust subtle shades of a color much more than already-vibrant shades, so something like ice or snow, which appears mostly white, will undergo a pretty serious transformation of hue based on what the light is imbuing it with; here, the day was wearing on, and the light was becoming a bit warmer, and the resulting image shows that. The shadows, too, where bluer colors lurk, have shifted quite a bit. It’s an interesting tool.
I don’t know why, in an image that is as manipulated as this one, I feel the need to brag that I’m not adding any colors that weren’t there to be brought out from the RAW file. Call it selective pride or something. Still, I’m having fun learning Lightroom better through these experiments.
Last fall, while I was taking my Photo 101 class, I had a discussion with the professor about the meaning of the word “abstract”. The assignment in question was to present an “abstraction”, as the professor described it. My mind went immediately to Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman, and Franz Kline and Gerhard Richter, all abstract expressionists whose art emanates, in a gross simplification, from images that are nothing more than images–there is no attempt to be representational. Many of the images I took for this assignment went that route, and there were a couple that were strongly inspired by Newman, even though I am not the biggest fan.
The images were, categorically, panned. Based on our differing definitions of abstract.
Abstract can also mean to remove or separate (dentists abstract teeth, for example), and what the professor was looking for was detail–line and form–that were somehow decontextualized. So a car’s fender might count. Recognizable immediately as a fender, but abstracted from the rest of the car.
Now that the grading portion of Photo 101 is behind me, and all I have left is the practical and theoretical knowledge I gained from it, I can take whatever abstract shots I want to. The above shot came from a recent photo walk in the Wissahickon, and I think it strongly evokes some of Gerhard Richter’s painting. Above I defined Richter as an abstract expressionist, but that was really just for ease of the sentence. His work actually covers a wide array of styles, but his abstraction is where I first got to know him, and how in my mind I define him. That would probably piss him off. Oh well. I am a fan of Richter, I think, for the same reason I’m not a fan of Newman: Newman’s images, especially the “zip” images for which he is most well-known, are too simplistic. They sure make their statement about image and color, but I find that, for me, they quickly move on. Richter’s work, on the other hand, can be quite intricate, with layers and layers of work and texture and color revealing themselves more and more the more the image is looked into.
The color intensity of this image has been jerked around quite a bit, but reportage was not what I was shooting for; rather, representation gave way to artistic interpretation, and the result is what I think is a very rich image, and one I am very pleased with. Every once in a while, I will see or make an image that seems to have potential in it for a more substantial direction of work, and this might be one.