"Topography"

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Comments are welcome and appreciated :)

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KenC

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I feel like there's something just a bit off for me. I probably would crop the top a little, almost to the corner in the shadow, and darken the upper left. That would give it more balance and eliminate an area that isn't doing much.
 
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^^ agreed. At the time I was so on this impression that the black blob looked like a bird that I wanted to reflect this in the "distance" with "birds in flight", but looking at this now, I see that was kind of silly (no. I wasn't stoned).

$Topography_crop.jpg
 

KenC

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Yes, it clearly looks like a bird. I'd go further with darkening the corner, perhaps do it with curves to avoid knocking the highlights down quite as much. Some interesting patterns in the fabric may be coming out.
 
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^^ cool. I'll take your suggestion later today.
 

Derrel

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WHat--that's NOT actually a bird??? 'Cause it LOOKs like a bird, for sure!

It's an unusual photo. The balance seems very heavily tilted toward the right hand side of the frame. The shapes in the foreground are impossible for me to decipher. The screening makes this all seem rather modern. It's very ambiguous. It causes a sort of unsettled feeling when I look at it.
 

sleist

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I thought it was a bird too!
Crop much better.
 
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The balance seems very heavily tilted toward the right hand side of the frame.

I was worried that it was too heavy to the left. :)

Burned version coming shortly. Thanks for the feedback all :)
 
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Did some local contrast... unsure if it's an improvement

$Topography_burn.jpg
 

Derrel

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I just thought of something: if you were to clone-in some more black to the left of the "bird", that second shape, which looks a bit like a bird's head seen in profile, would visually read as a second bird.

This photo, on its own, is tricky to place, to define, to pigeonhole. It's a very unusual photo. Abstract. Offbeat. Different. I do think the latest incarnation of it, the darkest one, is the most pleasing one of the three.
 

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Abstraction in photography is, I (currently) think, different from abstraction in other arts. That's sort of a duh, right? But the point is that an abstract photograph is ultimately a photograph OF something that is real and exists. We, the viewer, have to contend with that. An abstract painting might or might not represent something real, but we don't have to contend with the issue of it actually being something -- and we don't know WHAT.

This photograph suffers from that, but also suffers from, I think, the fact that the gradation from light to dark follows a sort of weird U-shaped path. Not only are we irritated that we don't know what it is, following gradations of light and dark goes nowhere, following lines (however weak they are) also goes nowhere. The natural high point of the picture, that birdlike shadow, is isolated and cut off from everything else. It's obvious, it's not like we have to hunt for the damn thing, but nothing in the picture seems to particularly support it. Everything else is just a jumble of actively distracting stuff.
 
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Do understand that for me this image isn't about harmony to start with, it's about ambiguity, texture, and, most of all about contrast between texture, tone and dimension. These themes are inherently dissonant.

The complaint of "following gradations of light and dark goes nowhere" is something I will consider in more depth.

Abstraction in photography is, I (currently) think, different from abstraction in other arts.

This is a limitation of convention, not the medium - so as a rule I cannot accept it. This isn't to say this image is a resounding success, only that implication that absolute abstraction in photography is never successful is false.

Derrel's statement that:

This photo, on its own, is tricky to place, to define, to pigeonhole. It's a very unusual photo. Abstract. Offbeat. Different. I do think the latest incarnation of it, the darkest one, is the most pleasing one of the three.

I think better illustrates it's challenges than to conclude that abstraction in photography must be softened to meet the sensibilities of our expectations about what photography is supposed to be.
 

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All I'm saying about abstraction is that people are more pissed off by abstract photos than abstract paintings. This isn't good or bad, I'm just saying your starting off with a slightly irritated viewer. That sounds like it might appeal to you ;)

Dissonance is an interesting idea. You might want to read up on musical harmony a bit if you're not familiar with it, I think it's applicable. The relevant point here is that the composer prepares the listener for the dissonant chord using a variety of techniques, to essentially bridge the gap from pleasing harmonies (major triads and so forth) to the dissonant note. The chords leading up to the dissonant one might play all the notes that will be present in that one, but in consonant major triads. The idea of all those notes is raised in the moments prior to the problematic chord. Similarly, the listener is lead away in a similarly organized fashion.

I don't know how to do this in a non-temporal form (and, frankly, I ain't no expert on how to do it musically either), but I feel as if the general theme of a dissonance surrounded and supported by consonance has to be a useful one.

I'm assuming you don't just want to stab your viewers in the eye repeatedly, because that's a lot easier.
 

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Today, many newbies use the term "abstract" when what they really are showing viewers are simple close-ups of patterns, or repeating shapes, easily identified within seconds. This photo actually qualifies as a photo abstract.

Maybe you could add some faked grain, and make some silver gelatin prints, artificially age them, and sell this as a long-lost Man Ray photo. lol.
 

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