Monday, June 13, 2016


Perhaps it's because I don't have the vision or it's because I have a need to control the entire composition.  In any event I find myself gravitating toward "small" scenes that involve abstract elements that are nevertheless recognizable--usually.  On my last few treks to Milwaukee's urban areas with my camera, I found myself doing the same thing.  Here is what I got, roughly in order of increasing abstraction.

The first is a street light set against a downtown office building.  My goal here was to set the street light a little off-center.  I also wanted to make sure that I included two sides of the building, which has a non-rectilinear footprint.  I chose to convert the image to a black & white to emphasize the lines and shapes.

On the other hand, color was important in the next photo of a portion of one of Milwaukee's iconic bridges, the Hoan Bridge, which spans the Milwaukee River as it empties into Lake Michigan.  Here I was most interested in the bridge's shapes and colors, which took on almost a cartoonish quality in the afternoon sun.

The next is not really that abstract.  It is a shot of some older buildings in Walker's Point, south of Milwaukee's downtown.  I'm not sure why I like this shot so much.  In one sense it is a nothing shot.  It really includes parts of four buildings, plus a wall, none of which are particularly interesting.  But somehow the overall composition seems to work.  Plus the afternoon light was really helpful.

Next up is a brand new office building with a glass facade that was reflecting a crane involved with the construction of another nearby office structure.

One of my longterm addictions has been my penchant for decrepitude.  Here another example.  In this case I wanted to contrast the more or less random pattern of paint failure with the strict symmetry of pattern in the construction of this garage door.  Besides, the color was really ugly.

I have photographed the seating in downtown's Peck Pavilion previously.  In this case I decided to provide more context by showing a bit more of the seat legs.  There was little color in this shot, so I just converted it to black & white to eliminate any potential distraction from stray colors.

We've all seen the grids featured in the following shot, which appear at spots in sidewalks where they border a street or driveway.  I had always thought their purpose was to help give traction to those using a wheelchair.  But I have been informed that their primary purpose is to alert blind individuals of a change in level of sidewalk.  On this occasion there was a strong late afternoon sun, which helped, I thought, to intensify color and pattern.

The following is an example of the type of shot that I pursue because I can control all of the elements of the composition.  This shallow stairway led from street level down to Milwaukee's Riverwalk.  

Nearby was a circular steel grate with contrasting elements and I took the following shot.  Again, I converted it to black & white to eliminate any color that may have distracted from the powerful pattern.  I wanted to place the center of the grate off-center in the photo.

The morning I was wandering the Riverwalk featured bright sunlight, and I used that to take advantage of the shadowing that it created, as in the following shots.  Shots that feature shadows are naturals for conversion to black & white.  Not only does that help to emphasize the patterns the shadows create; it allows me to darken the shadows even more in post processing.

One of the ways of creating abstracts is to narrow the depth of field, focusing on nearby objects and letting more distant objects to blur out of focus, as in the following shot.  

I particularly liked this shot, where I focused on some fencing and allowed the yellow parking ramp in the background to go out of focus.

Finally, is a flawed shot of a storm drain grate.  Here I significantly underexposed the grate and then further darkened it in post processing.  The shot is flawed because I was too lazy to use my tripod and there is a bit a motion blurring if one looks close.  Still, it came across as close to a pure abstract.


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting photos. The one of the storm great was my favorite