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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Critique Corner 
Thread started 15 Jul 2016 (Friday) 00:53
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abstract photos of tree trunks in the forest - would appreciate some insightful feedback

 
Tom ­ Reichner
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Jul 15, 2016 00:53 |  #1

.

I created these images by using the age-old technique of setting a slow shutter speed and then moving the camera rapidly in a downward vertical motion while clicking the shutter.

Although I really enjoy making these types of images, this is not my normal genre at all. So I would really appreciate seeing your thoughts and insights about these kinds of images; what works, what doesn't work, what could be improved, etc.

My ultimate goal for this type of image is to create a few that are worthy of printing on metal at fairly large sizes, such as 24 by 36, 32 by 48, etc.

I should note that I'm not much of a Photoshop user, so I am really looking for ideas and suggestions about composition, color, and subject matter, and I am not so much looking for suggestions that involve editing techniques. It is pretty much my preference to keep the images pretty much the way they were when they came straight out of the camera, except for minor adjustments to exposure, color balance, etc. . So, if something about these images should be different, then my inclination would be to go out and shoot a lot more of these types of images, not to sit at my computer and manipulate what has already been taken.


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OhLook
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Jul 15, 2016 01:39 |  #2

I like them, especially #1. You say you're thinking toward large ones on metal. There may be a market for such images. I used to know a woman who painted large abstracts (not wall-sized) that were mostly white or near white, but textured. She sold them to doctors who wanted something decorative but calming for their waiting areas.

Have you tried horizontal or angled movement?


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Martin ­ Dixon
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Jul 15, 2016 06:47 |  #3

Hart to criticise abstracts wich clear reasoning, but the first had got something good. Not so keen on the second.


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Bassat
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Jul 15, 2016 06:57 |  #4

Doesn't work for me. Too abstract. Perhaps slow down the motion or use less movement to leave a hint of what the subject may actually be. Very interesting idea, though.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Jul 15, 2016 07:18 |  #5

cool. :D

i like the first better, the dark spot on the right is a bit distracting, but the colors in the rest of the image are pleasing ... aspen forest?

wondering if it might be more dynamic looking if the lines weren't straight up and down. You might try cropping in a bit and rotating before deciding where to crop.

well, i took a second to take it into photoshop and my first thought was that with the vertical lines, a vertical crop might be more on track with the subject. Still think looking into a crop where the lines are not parallel to the image boarder might also be worth your time. Advertising psycology tells us that lines that move upward from left to right suggest ascent, while the the opposite suggest descending.


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Levina ­ de ­ Ruijter
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Jul 15, 2016 07:27 |  #6

I was having the same thought Tom had: try moving the camera a little slower, so you can still see the forest. Unless you really want to go for abstract of course, in which case they don't really work for me. Nothing wrong with either image as an abstract, just personal taste. :)


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chauncey
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Jul 15, 2016 08:21 |  #7

not to sit at my computer and manipulate what has already been taken

Well La-De-Da, who woulda thunk it, Tom is stepping out of his comfort zone into what...artistry.
I'm gonna argue with your premise of not manipulating images, but then you know I'm heavy into PS.

Regarding these two images...I'm not liking the color. Would rather see more of a pastel "look" and maybe rotate the images 90 degrees.
Check this link...http://www.finearttips​.com …ing-of-color-in-your-art/ (external link)

It sounds goofy but something that wouldn't require much manipulation...take a shallow baking tin filled with water>add drops of different
colored food coloring here and there>put in freezer>shoot it when solid...see one of mine in my 1x link.


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jul 15, 2016 11:31 |  #8

OhLook wrote in post #18067401 (external link)
I like them, especially #1. You say you're thinking toward large ones on metal. There may be a market for such images. I used to know a woman who painted large abstracts (not wall-sized) that were mostly white or near white, but textured. She sold them to doctors who wanted something decorative but calming for their waiting areas.

Thanks for that insight, Oh Look.

I think that you're identified my target market, perhaps without even realizing it! I have had recent requests for large prints by a medical clinic and the local hospital, so your thoughts fit right in with what I am looking to do with such images, as far as final use is concerned.

OhLook wrote in post #18067401 (external link)
Have you tried horizontal or angled movement?

Yes, I have. A lot. Both intentionally and unintentionally. A couple of the angled images are, I think, in my gallery here on POTN. But that gets very abstract, to the point that the viewer would never know that they were pictures of a forest.

Martin Dixon wrote in post #18067511 (external link)
Hart to criticise abstracts wich clear reasoning, but the first had got something good. Not so keen on the second.

Thanks, Martin. This is the kind of feedback I appreciate, as it will help guide me when it comes time to select images for printing.

Bassat wrote in post #18067514 (external link)
Doesn't work for me. Too abstract. Perhaps slow down the motion or use less movement to leave a hint of what the subject may actually be. Very interesting idea, though.

I have tried slowing the camera movement. Problem with that is that I would need an almost perfect section of forest for that to result in a "clean" image. And, unfortunately, I have not found a good enough piece of forest for that. You see, even though the tree trunks are vertical, there are a lot of horizontal branches and blow downs in any section of forest I find. So if I try slower camera movement, these horizontal things show up as very distracting elements in the frame. The only way I have found to make these horizontal elements disappear is to mov the camera even faster......which, of course, results in very smooth, blurred tree trunks. Here is an example of what happens when I employ a slower camera movement:


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Bot, of course, I am going to continue to look for a "perfect" forest area without any stray branches or blowdowns. I would love to have a way, in camera, to do such images that are a little less abstract (just a wee little bit less), yet that does not introduce distractions into the composition.

.

.

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Bassat
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Jul 15, 2016 11:35 |  #9

I think the image in post #8 is a huge improvement. There is just a hint that the image may actually be OF something, and still presents very little information as to what IT is. IMHO, this is more 'artistic'. Have you tried similar things with horizontal, mixed, or circular movements of the camera?


Tom,
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Jul 15, 2016 11:59 |  #10

Tom, with these images you are stepping out of the realm of photographer into the realm of painter (something I know a bit about).

The camera is a tool, much like a paintbrush is to the artist. With abstract painting it is not a simple matter of throwing paint on a canvas and calling it art. There is technique involved. There is theory involved. There is purpose involved, even if the pundits fail to recognize that. The goal is to create something that evokes emotion.

In your case you need to do a lot of experimentation to discover what works and what doesn't. This, however, is both the challenge and the fun of it. Here are some suggestions for you to consume. Take from it what you will.

  • Don't worry about what others think. Ask 100 people and you will get 100 different answers.
  • Experiment, experiment and experiment. When you've reached a point of frustration, experiment some more. You will be going through a process as you learn and hone your technique.
  • 99.9% of the images you initially take will be crap. Get used to that. However, as you perfect your technique that percentage drops, significantly. Trust me on this.
  • Work towards emotions.
  • Alter colors and direction (shapes) for different moods.
  • Try double exposure techniques.
  • Try layering techniques.
  • Try throwing your camera up while the shutter is open (not for the faint of heart).
  • Change your backgrounds.
  • Make your backgrounds.
  • Don't disqualify post processing just because you feel you can't do it or are disinclined to doing it.
  • Don't get discouraged. Specially if you find the end results rewarding.
  • Finally... Don't listen to me. It's your art, do as you like.

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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jul 15, 2016 13:27 |  #11

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #18067538 (external link)
i like the first better, the dark spot on the right is a bit distracting, but the colors in the rest of the image are pleasing

Thanks for the comment about the dark area. I have been debating that in my mind, continually wondering, "Is the dark area a distraction, or does it add depth and dimension to the composition?"

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #18067538 (external link)
... aspen forest?

There are lots and lots of aspen groves around here where I live.....but oddly enough, this is not an aspen forest. This is a forest of coniferous trees - pretty sure they are/were spruce - that was burned 7 or 8 years ago. The fire burned the bark off the trunks, and the exposed cambium gets bleached very pale by the strong sunlight in our area.

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #18067538 (external link)
wondering if it might be more dynamic looking if the lines weren't straight up and down. You might try cropping in a bit and rotating before deciding where to crop.

I've done a lot with angles, both intentional and accidentally (it's hard to move the camera precisely vertical and not have it slant sideways at all). I happen to really like it when the trunks are plumb, and have culled and deleted hundreds of images that were at slight angles. I guess the angled or slanted trunk is just not my thing, unless I am going for total abstract affect in which one would never even guess that they were tree tunks.....in that case, angles work.

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #18067538 (external link)
well, i took a second to take it into photoshop and my first thought was that with the vertical lines, a vertical crop might be more on track with the subject. Still think looking into a crop where the lines are not parallel to the image boarder might also be worth your time. Advertising psycology tells us that lines that move upward from left to right suggest ascent, while the the opposite suggest descending.

I do have one vertical composition that I am pleased with. I'll add it to this reply once I get home to my own computer and have access to my image library.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Jul 15, 2016 13:37 |  #12

-Duck- wrote in post #18067796 (external link)
Tom, with these images you are stepping out of the realm of photographer into the realm of painter (something I know a bit about). The camera is a tool, much like a paintbrush is to the artist. With abstract painting it is not a simple matter of throwing paint on a canvas and calling it art....

Good stuff. I especially like the item below. Can I borrow one of yours? ;-)a

-Duck- wrote in post #18067796 (external link)
  • Try throwing your camera up while the shutter is open (not for the faint of heart).

  • -Matt
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    Tom ­ Reichner
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    Jul 15, 2016 13:45 |  #13

    Levina de Ruijter wrote in post #18067542 (external link)
    I was having the same thought Tom had: try moving the camera a little slower, so you can still see the forest. Unless you really want to go for abstract of course, in which case they don't really work for me. Nothing wrong with either image as an abstract, just personal taste. :)

    Yes, what I am trying to do here is to go really abstract. To the point where some viewers might not even realize that they are trees.
    In both photography and other mediums, such as painting, I am often drawn to images that aren't necessarily of anything.

    When you have things like form, color, shape, balance, motion, diversity within a pattern, repetition of form, etc, then you really don't need a subject - these things are your subjects! You don't need an image to be of anything. At least that's where my tastes lie when it comes to abstract images.

    .


    "Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
    "They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
    "Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

      
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    Jul 15, 2016 13:57 |  #14

    I generally like the idea of these, Tom. I tend to hang non-objective subject matter in my home, though I infrequently attempt to produce it with photography. I look forward to your progression. Out of curiosity, do you ever title these or are they untitled/numbered?


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    Levina ­ de ­ Ruijter
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    Jul 15, 2016 14:04 as a reply to  @ Tom Reichner's post |  #15

    Fair enough, Tom. I think when you said "trees", I was thinking of some images I saw of trees in a forest that were taken much the same way, resulting in a pic that was halfway between the real thing and abstract. I liked those a lot.

    As to abstracts, I have learned to appreciate them from a flickr pal of mine (and she really is a pal, also off-flickr). She does abstracts (other things also). Not everything is as good but she has a real talent for it and some of her work is just absolutely gorgeous and brilliant. At first I would wonder what it was a picture of but I learned not to do that but instead admire the colours, shapes and all the things you mention, just for what they are. In fact, to not know what an abstract is a picture of, is better, because knowing what it is, may actually take away from the beauty of it.

    And also, in the end, only one person's opinion matters: yours! :-)


    Levina
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    abstract photos of tree trunks in the forest - would appreciate some insightful feedback
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