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“The best way out is always through.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turn Reality into Abstraction

As photographers, we're all pretty much hung up on reality. After all, that's what a camera is good at: capturing real things very realistically. Even if you've never been to India, for example, you probably have a pretty clear mental image of just what the Taj Mahal looks like. And even if you've never (lucky you) run into a rattlesnake, you'd know one if you saw it in person thanks to the reality-seeking eye of the camera.

But sometimes it's fun to turn the tables on reality and, in fact, to turn it inside out. All of those tiny bits of things that when combined reveal the whole to us can be dissected from the whole and turned into great abstract compositions. Creating abstraction from reality is easy too: one method is just to close in and frame so tightly that the overall subject is hidden--as I did with this close-up of parrot feathers. Yes, it's easy to tell that it's probably a real parrot, but isolated like this the feathers take on a whole new visual identity. In this view color and shape and texture trump realism. Other ways to capture abstraction include turning the camera upside down, using long shutter speeds to blur moving subjects or even just shaking the camera during a relatively long exposure. Next time you're out shooting, walk away from reality from a few minutes and you may find a brave new vision.

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