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Thread: A short abstract series that has me stumped

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Hi all,

    Herewith an attempt to get artistic; a short series of abstract images of old tree stumps, in fact they may well all be from the same one.

    Not sure I'm as pleased with the results as I'd hoped when I took them, but you can't have everything!

    Do let me know what you think, as this is quite experimental for me, especially the compositions; I spent a while working out which way round and how much to crop from each to give what I hope is are pleasing abstract images.

    Another query; does it work having them different sizes, as I think befits the composition, or should I have tried to get them all say, square, or 5:4?

    #7793
    A short abstract series that has me stumped
    1/450s @ f/7.1, ISO200, efl 90mm

    #7795
    A short abstract series that has me stumped
    1/280s @ f/5.6, ISO200, efl 60mm

    #7796
    A short abstract series that has me stumped
    1/160s @ f/4.0, ISO200, efl 60mm

    #7801
    A short abstract series that has me stumped
    1/350s @ f/5.6, ISO200, efl 44mm

    Thanks for your time,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th April 2009 at 07:35 PM. Reason: added EXIF data re DoF

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    Daniel Salazar's Avatar
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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Hi Dave, why don't you try using b&W or sepia or some effect that might help you adding more drama to the details?

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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Hi Dave These images raise a number of points. I've tried in the past to capture natural patterns and textures such as those in tree stumps or trunks. Generally, I've been disappointed in my results; technical issues such as lighting and depth of field being critical. Also, I don't seem to be able to capture the composition that I see in the real world, this being probably the result of not getting close enough to the subject.

    That said, looking at your images, I think that they are technically very well done and, apart from any other consideration, they would be excellent documentary photos of old wood and the distortions arising through time. There are good tonal balances that seem to work with the twirls and curls of the wood. They all have a limited palette of colour, again enhancing the images. Thus, monochrome, as suggested by Daniel, is not necessary. Overall, to my eye, the compositions seem to work very well, particularly #3 in the series.

    Regarding image size and format, there can be advantages in standardisation if you were displaying these as a set. But, there can also be advantages in having different sizes, e.g. breaking the monotony. Thus, I think this point comes down to what the photographer wants to show.

    I am not sure that the wider art world would class these as abstract images, nor even abstracted images. However, you could use them as a basis for non-figurative work.


    (BTW, I think there should be a running competition for the worst punning title!)

    I hope these points are useful.

    Cheers

    David

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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Dave if you are basically happy with them, but just feel they lack a bit of something, then I would suggest, along the lines that Daniel already has, mucking about with saturation and toning and whatever grabs you at the moment. Many an interesting shot has come out of something like you have there. As you say, it's an abstract series, so go for your life on it.

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    David's Avatar
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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Dave -Having got me thinking, here's an abstracted bark image.


    A short abstract series that has me stumped


    Cheers

    David

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Hi David, Daniel and Bill,

    Thanks for all the feedback so far, it has been useful and given me some ideas.

    I notice I wasn't paying enough attention to DoF; I should have been on Aperture priority, but now see I wasn't, so I've missed getting some better DoF by being at an unnecessarily wider aperture on some.

    Yes, I think #3 is my favourite, it was going to be in this week's challenge, but was taken a little too long ago and has gone 'off date', I must get a move on and improve my workflow turnaround to less than a month!

    In terms of disatisfaction, I found there is a small sized wood grain effect that my eye didn't register at shooting time, but unfortunately, the sharpening latches onto this and turns it into a peppered appearance similar to oversharpened noise, I was trying to avoid doing this. However, it maybe something to be embraced if "going for it" as Bill suggests. It'll probably look much like that David's bark picture, giving it character.

    Thanks all,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th April 2009 at 08:04 PM. Reason: correct typo

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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    I wish I could think of taking images like these, it just does not occur to me until I see photo's such as these on here.
    I like all of them Dave.

    Having said that, even to my 'untrained' eye I noticed the depth of field issue and did not know if it was intentional or not, the second and third images top left and top right corners respectively seem to be where they suffer in my opinion.

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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    I think they are noble efforts Dave, but in a slightly doomed field. I can hardly find any I have not binned though I must have taken dozens as they are fascinating in real life. I have also tried mono versions of some to try to isolate the undoubtedly fascinating shapes. I suspect the photo problem is (a) conflict between a focal point and general texture (b) you don't get a hierarchy of receding planes and their corresponding receding saturations to build up enough 3D with just the shading, though #7793 does pretty well.

    Trees have all sorts of other fascinating details and I find I have gone onto things like blossom and seed heads....but will almost certainly still have a pot at the gnext gnarl that catches my eye.

  9. #9

    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Dave

    These are very nice shots and have taken a few like this myself. As others have said the result back home did little to excite me. I did try to get some variance in theme in the shot below (taken with my trusty Fujifilm S7000.....even then I am not sure it cuts the mustard

    A short abstract series that has me stumped

  10. #10
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I have just added the EXIF data to the post above and as you can now see, its little surprise I have DoF problems, only 7793 is approaching my smallest aperture (f8), and 7796, being round the shady side was wide open (f4) at that focal length. Shot on "P" when shoulda been "A" and at a higher ISO in the shade. You live and learn.

    Keith, I never used to see things like this either, but now, since belonging here and being exposed to all the great shots, I do. My photographic forays used to be an hour or so and I couldn't think what to photograph, so the camera was off most of the time. Recently, I've stretched from 4 to 6+ hours just wandering around, taking my time, waiting for clouds or people to move in, or out, of the way, in order to get a shot, quite relaxing Revisiting the same few places at different times of day, and several times on the same day to catch the people or wildlife at different activities.

    Chris, Steve,

    It's good to know I'm not the only one who gets disappointed with results when back home though, thanks.

    From what you're saying Chris, I wondered whether shooting at an oblique angle with a tilt/shift lens, to restore focus across the subject would work (i.e. give a 3D view and sharp texture? Not that I have one of those lenses, if anyone else has, fancy giving it a try? Hans, perhaps?

    Thoughtful stuff, I am most grateful to all posters for the excellent and high quality feedback. I hope I can do the same for you sometime.

    Cheers,

  11. #11
    crisscross's Avatar
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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Is your Nikon ready packed for collection tomorrow Dave? You will find you have far closer control over DOF; there is something about the way compact zooms deal with optics that is different from DSLR optics.

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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Dave, I think I like # 7801 best compositionally with the "eye" placed by rule of thirds, and the swirling grain causing the eye to explore here and there. That one also has good tonal range: highlights preserved and that dark lower left corner.

    Overall impression on first glance is that this could be something else than what it is.

    Thanks for sharing these images,
    Joe

  13. #13
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    Is your Nikon ready packed for collection tomorrow Dave?
    I wish!

    Didn't have the confidence to pre-order when so much advice here says 'go play and see how it feels'. Plus I can't decide on lenses.

    I think I might start a new thread for this topic in the DSLR forum, or I might get 'moderated'

    Thanks Joe, putting that knot "on the thirds" was deliberate in the crop (I think), remember think it was time to adhere to at least some of the rules

    In terms of #7801 being something else, if the sun didn't give away the actual contours and I rotated it 90 degrees cloockwise, it could be a close up of a (carved) right ear. What did you see?

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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    In terms of #7801 being something else, if the sun didn't give away the actual contours and I rotated it 90 degrees cloockwise, it could be a close up of a (carved) right ear. What did you see?
    I actually saw it as an eye, perhaps of a bird, with the upper half of the image being a feather crest, the beak being lower left (perhaps even out of the frame.)
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 6th May 2009 at 09:26 PM. Reason: fixed quote tags

  15. #15
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: A short abstract series that has me stumped

    Hi Joe, I see what you mean, there could be no end to this

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