NYC New Images - Exploring Architectural Abstract

The world of abstract photography is very elusive and vague.  I often tell people that it is equivalent to poetry.  It conveys more in what it doesn’t say or show than what it does.  By taking something out of context and presenting only a part of the whole, we are prompting a few mental triggers that we humans, love so much to play with:

1.     The human brain loves to try and figure things out.  To solve mental riddles, verbal or visual, to put things in context and categorize.  It is part of our innate human nature.  The first thing we ask when looking at an abstract image is: what is it? The problem-solving process is something that intrigues people all over the world, crossing boundaries and genders.

2.     The simplified scene can be reinterpreted again and again.  It does not wear off by unstimulating the mind, but instead, with each day, week or year, we see something new and different in it, as we ourselves grow to be different.  The I of our eye changes, and with it, the visual story we see.

3.     By eliminating context, we leave plenty of room for various interpretations and enable the viewer to play a larger role in finding their own beauty and context beyond the artists’ personal vision.  This subjective participation allows for an increased intimate emotion when viewing the image.

Creating an abstract architectural image is very difficult in many ways.  First and foremost, it is hard to convey emotion when the subject of your image is inanimate.  The lack of a human facial expression or gesture leaves the photographer with a harder task as the emotion needs to be conveyed using alternative methods.  So, what are these ‘alternatives’ you ask? To list a few tips to get you started, there are:

1.     Composition

2.     Colour

3.     Contrast

4.     Lighting and Gradient Lighting

In my last Architectural Photography Workshop in New York City, I took my students to the Oculus building.  Struggling with the crowds of people we decided to look up and shoot abstract.  To see in shapes, lines and light.  I want to exemplify the ideas I addressed above though my latest images from my last visit at the Oculus in NYC.

Oculus Abstract 4 Images.jpg

When looking at the NYC Oculus Series, ask yourself:

·      What do darker tones make you feel as opposed to brighter ones? 

·      Does the simplistic composition make you more or less intrigued about the image?

·      Are the tones and colour soothing to your eye or do you find them disturbing?

The topic of Abstract Photography is multifaceted and complex, especially in the sub-field of architectural photography.  Sharon Tenenbaum, being an engineer and artist, teaches the artistic and scientific aspects of this fascinating field. Join Sharon on her workshops to learn more.