Repost – Abstract Photography – Ep. 1

Opening a view to alternate realities.

As one of my recent posts, Temporary Passage, generated some questions around the technique that I used to generate the image, I thought that I would repost the series of 3 blog posts that I wrote about this topic in February, 2016.  Here is the first one, the other two will appear in the next couple of days.

Zooming abstraction of a brush pile
Brush Abstraction 1

A significant amount of photography attempts to capture the reality we see around us, often in the best possible light.

As a result, most of the advances in photography have been aimed at achieving ever higher fidelity in capturing this reality.  In digital photography, sensors have become more sensitive causing ISO ranges to expand, white balance is corrected ever more accurately and many other innovations have been programmed into the complex computers that we call digital cameras.

Of course, this is a good thing, as it has allowed photographers to get much more satisfactory results in capturing all matter of subjects under a wide variety of conditions.  Moreover, today’s digital cameras provide their users with a sense of instant gratification well beyond that of even the near-instant output of Polaroid cameras.  The added bonus of being able to delete a poor image has brought many people to photography on a scale that dwarfs the success of even the legendary Kodak Brownie camera.

Butterfly uncovered in variegated ivy
Cryptomorphosis 1

One side effect of this renaissance of photography, is that the digital diluvium of imagery may give one the impression that everything ranging from the mundane to the sublime has been recorded by someone somewhere.  How many times have you heard someone say, as you proudly show them your work, “I have a photo of that, let me show you!”, and they bring forth their smart-phone to show you their record of what you thought you were the first to see through your viewfinder?

I have to admit that there have been numerous times that I looked at a scene in front of me, weighing how I might want to photograph it, and felt the pressure to come up with a novel approach to creating the image.  Yes, each individual photographer views the world in their unique and personal fashion, but is it enough differentiation to satisfy our creative urge?  Personally, I refrained from photographing certain scenes that might be considered over-photographed.  Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick, ME, comes to mind; this may be the “most photographed” lighthouse on the East Coast of the US.  It was years before I came up with a treatment of this lighthouse that told a story that I saw.

Light painting of intersection scene
Connections

Rather than replicating the great work that has been done by many photographers before me, I started looking for an alternate take on the world around me.  Yes, I still photograph what all of us see around us in the standard manner of faithful reproduction of the scene.  However, from time to time, I have been doing some experimental photography to try and reveal some of the things that our eyes don’t see, but that are still there.  After a little more than a year of experimenting, and learning some new tricks that can be performed with a zoom lens or through camera motion and careful timing, I have started to pull things together into a more unified portfolio of abstract photography.

Rotated columns with night traffic
Portal

The goal of this portfolio is to show some of the layer underneath the immediately visible; a layer that I see from time to time, when I look at the world through more of a mind’s eye.  This view is exposed only when I manipulate the camera or the lens, and never through post-capture processing; also, no special camera software or firmware is used.

These images come to me when I am on location and are inspired by the sense of mystery that I derive from that location.  What first started as pure experimentation has evolved into a new set of skills that uncover previously hidden insights.  An image unfolds in front of me as I visualize it, and I plan an approach on how to capture it.  The success rate is not 100%, but the results are interesting and encouraging in exploring new avenues of creativity that may otherwise remain cryptic.

The subjects that I have approached with this experimental methodology have ranged from fire to flowers and urban landscapes.  Each set of subjects evokes their own, specific set of moments in the space-time continuum that ask to be recorded in a particular fashion; some have rendered surprises and few have been disappointing.  There have been times when several attempts were needed to find the right balance that extracts the correct alternate sense from the subject; each subject has a series of alternate views that can be uncovered through opening up to the flow of energy that emanates from it.  Many more await discovery.

In next week’s episode of TTT, I will describe the details of the process that I use to create the images seen here and in my abstract images portfolio.  I hope you don’t mind waiting until next Tuesday for that post.  In the mean time, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them.

As always, thank you for reading my blog!

Warped Wednesday – pt.1

Transmogrification

As promised with the New Year there may be a new series of posts to try out something different and see how you like the idea…  Yes, it’s all up to you to determine whether Warped Wednesday will become a regular feature.

You may be aware that I enjoy the occasional bit of abstract photography among my plethora landscapes and other subjects that catch my mind’s eye.  What I enjoy most about abstract work is the process of discovery: finding something within the view in front of me that I can change, transmogrify in camera.

20140222-process-of-detachment_57a5990
Process of Detachment

This image is a bit more unusual among my abstracts, due to the process that I used.  The Canon 5D MkIII has the capability to do in-camera HDR, where it combines 3 exposures into a single JPEG using High Dynamic Range imaging techniques.  The exposures in this case range from 1/10 second to 1.6 seconds; the fastest exposure was held still and when I got to the 1.6 second exposure, I twisted the barrel of my lens to get a significant amount of zoom blur.  This confused the in-camera HDR processing to such an extent that artifacts were created around the leaves, which caused a sense of the leaves detaching themselves from the background.

Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t know what the final result might be, as this was a bit of an experiment.  Trying out different things and techniques is part of the fun of exploring in photography and many other areas in life; it’s good to stretch the boundaries and keeping those experiments that we like.

I kind of like this experiment… what do you think?  Have you ever tried some different techniques?

M-Theory

Strings abound!

As today’s Tuesday Technique Topic is part 1 of 3 on abstract photography, as I have approached it thus far, it might be nice to share an outlier from this part of my portfolio with you.

M-Theory_MG_9475
M-Theory

The title of this image is a reference to the theory in physics that unifies all consistent versions of superstring theory.  If we look deep enough into the underlying structure of all that surrounds us, its structure shall become apparent and reveal the great secrets of the universe.

Technical Aspects of the Image

I created this image using a zoom-blur technique with an exposure time of appr. 1/3 of a second.  The camera I used a Canon EOS 5D MkII with a 24-105 lens.  It took about 3 or 4 attempts to really get the effect that I was looking for, as I wanted the stringiness to come through while acquiring the speed of the universe throughout the edges of the image.

Hope you enjoy this little exploration of the universe.

TTT – Abstract Photography – Ep. 1

Opening a view to alternate realities.

As part of the new schedule, Tuesday’s will get a regular feature titled TTT: Tuesday Technique Topic.  At the suggestion of one of my wonderful readers, I’m starting with the topic of Abstract Photography, as I have approached it.

Zooming abstraction of a brush pile
Brush Abstraction 1

A significant amount of photography attempts to capture the reality we see around us, often in the best possible light.

As a result, most of the advances in photography have been aimed at achieving ever higher fidelity in capturing this reality.  In digital photography, sensors have become more sensitive causing ISO ranges to expand, white balance is corrected ever more accurately and many other innovations have been programmed into the complex computers that we call digital cameras.

Of course, this is a good thing, as it has allowed photographers to get much more satisfactory results in capturing all matter of subjects under a wide variety of conditions.  Moreover, today’s digital cameras provide their users with a sense of instant gratification well beyond that of even the near-instant output of Polaroid cameras.  The added bonus of being able to delete a poor image has brought many people to photography on a scale that dwarfs the success of even the legendary Kodak Brownie camera.

Butterfly uncovered in variegated ivy
Cryptomorphosis 1

One side effect of this renaissance of photography, is that the digital diluvium of imagery may give one the impression that everything ranging from the mundane to the sublime has been recorded by someone somewhere.  How many times have you heard someone say, as you proudly show them your work, “I have a photo of that, let me show you!”, and they bring forth their smart-phone to show you their record of what you thought you were the first to see through your viewfinder?

I have to admit that there have been numerous times that I looked at a scene in front of me, weighing how I might want to photograph it, and felt the pressure to come up with a novel approach to creating the image.  Yes, each individual photographer views the world in their unique and personal fashion, but is it enough differentiation to satisfy our creative urge?  Personally, I refrained from photographing certain scenes that might be considered over-photographed.  Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick, ME, comes to mind; this may be the “most photographed” lighthouse on the East Coast of the US.  It was years before I came up with a treatment of this lighthouse that told a story that I saw.

Light painting of intersection scene
Connections

Rather than replicating the great work that has been done by many photographers before me, I started looking for an alternate take on the world around me.  Yes, I still photograph what all of us see around us in the standard manner of faithful reproduction of the scene.  However, from time to time, I have been doing some experimental photography to try and reveal some of the things that our eyes don’t see, but that are still there.  After a little more than a year of experimenting, and learning some new tricks that can be performed with a zoom lens or through camera motion and careful timing, I have started to pull things together into a more unified portfolio of abstract photography.

Rotated columns with night traffic
Portal

The goal of this portfolio is to show some of the layer underneath the immediately visible; a layer that I see from time to time, when I look at the world through more of a mind’s eye.  This view is exposed only when I manipulate the camera or the lens, and never through post-capture processing; also, no special camera software or firmware is used.

These images come to me when I am on location and are inspired by the sense of mystery that I derive from that location.  What first started as pure experimentation has evolved into a new set of skills that uncover previously hidden insights.  An image unfolds in front of me as I visualize it, and I plan an approach on how to capture it.  The success rate is not 100%, but the results are interesting and encouraging in exploring new avenues of creativity that may otherwise remain cryptic.

The subjects that I have approached with this experimental methodology have ranged from fire to flowers and urban landscapes.  Each set of subjects evokes their own, specific set of moments in the space-time continuum that ask to be recorded in a particular fashion; some have rendered surprises and few have been disappointing.  There have been times when several attempts were needed to find the right balance that extracts the correct alternate sense from the subject; each subject has a series of alternate views that can be uncovered through opening up to the flow of energy that emanates from it.  Many more await discovery.

In next week’s episode of TTT, I will describe the details of the process that I use to create the images seen here and in my abstract images portfolio.  I hope you don’t mind waiting until next Tuesday for that post.  In the mean time, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them.

As always, thank you for reading my blog!

Autumn Serenity

A bit of abstract photography to soothe the senses

One aspect of my photography is that I will experiment with different in-camera techniques to produce images that are more abstract than representational.  Over the years, I have built up a series of images that I call Kryptomorphaics, as they bring out the hidden through transformation.

Autumn-Serenity_MG_9512
Autumn Serenity

The inspiration for this image is the overwhelming sense of calmness that I felt, as I walked through the landscape observing the way the light played through the autumn leaves.

Hope you enjoy this image, as it is a little different.

Happy New Title and Tag You’re It!

As this blog didn’t evolve much over the past couple of years, today was a perfect time for the second daily task in the Blogging 101 course from WordPress’ Blogging University: Take Control of Your Title and Tagline.

It was time to rid this blog of the old title of ‘jansenphoto’, as my name doesn’t truly reflect me.  The new title ‘Dutch goes the Photo’ actually tells you something about me, my background and approach to photography.

Angleic Butterfly emerging from Vines
Cryptomorphosis 1

The new tagline ‘Focus Hocus Pocus’ is a nod to one of my favorite Dutch bands, Focus and one of their great songs ‘Hocus Pocus’.  Music like that never gets old, just like novel approaches to photography keep things fresh and exciting.

Another link back to the ‘Focus Hocus Pocus’ is on view in the image here, which I captured in the Netherlands about 5 years ago.  All the magic in this image titled ‘Cryptomorphosis 1’ was done in-camera with only minor touch-ups in Photoshop…

Kryptomorphaics #8 – Invasive Species

Invasive Species
Invasive Species

Image Description

This image is a bit different in the ‘Kryptomorphaics’ series in that it did not include any camera-based manipulation of the image.  ‘Invasive Species’ became apparent to me, as I was wondering through the systematic garden at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.  I was on the prowl for some great new additions to the aforementioned series of abstract images and found a good number of them (the album can be found on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/frankjansenphotography/ – under ‘Projects in Progress’ ).  When I first looked at the flora presented to me in the small pond, my eyes went to some of the flowers and its structure against the sky; they presented an interesting subject, but didn’t have the pull, for which I tend to look in a subject.  Allowing my eyes to trace the outline of the reeds and flowers downward, I was surprised by the stillness of the reflection and closed in for a better look.

Taking a step unto the stone surround of the pond, I noticed that there was a hint of a breeze at the top of the reeds, while the surface of the pond remained quiet and glassy.  There was an abundance of small particulate matter floating in the pond, which gave me a sense of stellar matter floating throughout a galaxy; the tentative reflection of a bit of cloud hints at a galaxy that is reasonably close on the scale of the universe, but still distant enough to not directly affect the species floating throughout the vast empty space.  As the story of this plant-like species’ journey through the vastness of space began to unfold in my mind, I could see it taking the role of an invasive species looking to colonize some unsuspecting planet that suited its particular needs.  Surrounded by a cloud of seedlings, which are purposed to protect the main organism and scan the space ahead for a potential home world.  We cannot fully grasp the scale of the organism: it may be the size of a large city, such as New York, or as large as a small moon.  Only the destruction that it leaves in its wake gives us a measure of its voracity and appetite.

Enjoy this image, and don’t hesitate to let me know what it means to you.  I am curious how you may read the image.

Technical Details

This image was captured at 100 ISO, F/13 at 1/30 second shutter speed.  Color and contrast were adjusted for the desired effect in Photoshop.

Kryptomorphaics #7 – Centripetus

Reality viewed through a web of perception
Centripetus

Image Description

On a beautiful Summer’s day I stopped at a rolling meadow to capture some of the landscape with my camera; less than twenty minutes later I got back in my car with a number of images, one of which is ‘Centripetus’.

In photographing landscapes, there is always a desire in me to capture something unusual that has not been seen the same way by all who were at the site.  Whether it is the beauty of the sky, unusual features traversing the landscape or an alternate point of view, there should be something in a landscape image that makes the viewer want to look more than once.

With my eyes alertly searching for just the right kind of view that would make an interesting photograph, I squinted a bit as I walked past a tree and some small bushes growing next to it; looking through the bushes toward a horizon that showed a beautiful color palette across the sky, I sensed something more.

The more that I sensed consists of a view through these very bushes toward the reality that lies beyond them, not a clear view, but one filtered through a veritable web of perception.  This view draws us in with the knowledge that there is more to be discovered beyond these bushes; we thirst to pass through the web and uncover what our eyes cannot yet see, while our entire being is tugged by the impetus to approach the center.

Take a moment to allow the eyes to slowly adjust and let themselves be drawn in; float with them and feel the force that resides within the green world in front of us.

Technical Details

This image was captured at 100 ISO, F/22 at 1/3 second shutter speed.  A snappy zoom twist with a modicum of camera rotation was used to create a sense of webbed delight.

Kryptomorphaics #6 – Introspection

Introspection
Blue view of glacially deposited rocks

Image Description

In this image, ‘Introspection’, a sense of deep blue thoughts is evoked from within a deposit of rocks, brought to the site most likely with the help of the slow, methodical, yet inexorable power of a glacier.  These rocks have seen much change around them, while they themselves have changed only slowly; withstanding the test of time, they absorb the vibrations of the universe, as they pulse through them.  These rocks are an ancient recording device, filled with information, which may have immense value, if only it can be extracted.

The wisdom of the rocks stands in stark juxtaposition to the assumptions that we, humans, make about them; we hurl rocks as an insult to those, who we consider of inferior intellect: you have ROCKS for BRAINS!  If we take into consideration that every rock has been a receiver of universal data for many aeons, we should be astounded by the cornucopia of knowledge that resides within each pebble; the volumes of data that exist within a brain-sized boulder will indubitably contain all of Einstein’s theories, quantum mechanics and string theory.  If we think what might be stored in the rocks that make up Stonehenge, it will be well beyond our comprehension!

When the vibrations from these glacial deposits operate in harmony with our mind, wondrous images appear, an epiphany of geological proportions; allow the rocks to speak to you and listen carefully to their incantations…

Technical Details

This image was captured at 100 ISO, F/22 at 0.5 second shutter speed.  A reasonably quick twist of the zoom barrel brought out the flow from the rocks.  The original image was cropped and rotated 90 degrees; color and contrast were enhanced in Photoshop, but no effects were added to alter the image from that captured in the camera.

Kryptomorphaics #5 – Pyroplasm 3x

Starbirth in the Universal Fires
Pyroplasm 3x

Image Description

‘Pyroplasm 3x’ is one of the images that sprang from the first series of abstract images that I created within my camera.  Sitting around a campfire with a group of fellow photographers, I mused over photographing the fire in front of me; looking to capture more of the content that lies within the fire rather than a purely pictorial representation, I opened my senses to the nature of the fire and its very essence.  As a purely physical phenomenon, fire is the oxygenation of gaseous materials; upon deeper examination fire shows itself to have a life-force, to which many firefighters surely relate, as they stare down the flames and try to understand the next move of the fire in font of them.

Allowing my senses to open themselves up further to the campfire, I not only watch the playful dance of flames and feel the heat projecting from the various parts of the fire, but also listen intently to the sounds emanating from the fire and smell the oils in the wood and the smoke.  Going deeper, bringing myself to meditate while focused on the intensity of the center of the flames, I begin to feel the strength of the universal processes at work and begin to connect with the creative forces that are an innate part of fire’s destructive power.  Through this connection, I capture this image of creation juxtaposed by destruction, a universal dance of life and death.

I expect that each may have a different reaction to this image at various emotional levels, ranging from the visceral to the intellectual.  Enlarge the image and allow time for the senses to connect with it; please share what you feel in this capture, as I enjoy your thoughts and feedback.

Technical Details

This image was captured at 100 ISO, F/9 at 8 second shutter speed.  A gentle zoom twist was employed to get the some of the sense of flow.  A steady hand ensured that the continuity of the gaseous flow was preserved in the image.  The original image was cropped and rotated 90 degrees; color and contrast were enhanced in Photoshop, but no effects were added to alter the image from that captured in the camera.