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Thread: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

  1. #1
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    Default What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Hello fellow Forumers! Here's yet another mind-boggling question that I haven't been able to answer. When I look through a gallery of 'Abstract' photos at another website (not at CS), I come across a huge variety of submissions, ranging from portraits (some tightly cropped), insects, parts of flowers, photographs of patterns/ shadows, still life, light trails, architecture...

    So this begs the question, 'What on earth is an 'Abstract' Photo?' How does a photograph qualify to be labeled as an 'abstract'?

    Must an 'abstract' photograph make the subject unidentifiable as to type? Or perhaps the subject can still be identified through the photo, which is actually a small snippet of the entire subject?

    My English isn't good, but I thought the act of 'abstracting' means to take something out of context. But whenever we take any photograph, are we also not 'abstracting' or taking the subjects out of their context? This perhaps explains why a slight change in composition can mean a big change in meaning.

    Anyone able to help me clarify this issue?

  2. #2

    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    abstract photos should be unidentifiable or at least make no attempt to show what it really is, the surroundings etc.

    at least thats what i think.

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by kentay
    abstract photos should be unidentifiable or at least make no attempt to show what it really is, the surroundings etc.

    at least thats what i think.
    Thanks for your response. On more than a few occasions I've seen some things being called abstract, even though it's quite readily identifiable. For example, a wildlife photo might feature a very tight crop on an eagle's head just to show the eye and a little bit of the beak. Or a photo of a bison may be deliberately underexposed but the backlighting still reveals what it is. Hope to hear more opinions from others.

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    oh sorry i tot u meant cs. my mistake. i'll have a rethink.
    Last edited by foxtwo; 1st May 2006 at 06:59 PM.

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo
    we only have so many galleries to post what.... virtually any inanimate object(s) will be posted under CS abstract gallery. you'll just be confusing yourself by basing opinions from CS abstract gallery.
    This is actually a situation that I noticed on another site, not on CS. At that site, there are a whole slew of more confusing categories such as 'Surreal' and 'Conceptual'. So it is your opinion that only photos of inanimate objects can be considered as abstracts? Do you feel that photos of living things may also qualify as an abstract?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    if i cant find any words to describe it...means its abstract..

  7. #7

    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Objects have many physical qualities that maybe photographed. Primarily, we are concerned with what something looked like...this mountain; this building; this face.

    However, objects also are composed of abstract qualities that are not so easily photographed. An abstract quality such as 'texture' or 'colour' for example may be a subject completely removed from a specific object. We can take a picture of something that happens to be green but how do we take a picture OF green? We may take a picture od something that is smooth or rough but how do we take a picture of the quality of 'smoothness' or 'roughness' apart from the object itself? This is what abstract photography aims to do. It tries to separate a specific intangible element of an object and present that to us so that we experience that quality...'greenness' for example...as not simply a part of an object but as the 'pure' concept.


    Too many people think that an abstract photograph is supposed to be confusing and induce the 'Huh?' reaction but, in fact, the best of the abstracts give new information and provide viewers with insight into a quality that they cannot ordinarily experience directly but only as a property of something else. It provokes the 'Ah Ha!" reaction instead of the 'Huh?'reaction.


    Over the years, people have blurred the idea of the abstract into a catch-all for photographic mistakes and bad technique. You accidentally pressed the shutter release and what is, in reality, an unframed, out of focus, poorly exposed mistake becomes an 'abstract'! The really good abstract photographers have complete control over what they are planning to capture on film. The know what intangible essence they want to convey and that doesn't happen by accident.


    Good abstracts are perhaps the most difficult of all images to produce. Mistakes labelled as abstracts take no effort whatsoever.

    - Meryl Arbing

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    well i had a rethink.

    i feel inanimate objects make the better abstracts. meaning they give little arguement to what other category they can otherwise be in.

    while it's certainly possible to shoot say, a human body in an unusual composition thus appearing abstract. could it be under nude? or if it were with clothes, could it be labelled under fashion?

    what's the defination for nude? -only the rude bits?

    what's the defination for fashion? -only if the model has a face?

    it ultimately depends on the photographer. sure my photo may not look 'abstract', but may be you're not seeing it my way.

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo

    i feel inanimate objects make the better abstracts. meaning they give little arguement to what other category they can otherwise be in.
    ahhh.... but inanimate objects can also become product shots, in a way. so what am i saying? hahah

    maybe should just go with zaren's post.

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by niki
    if i cant find any words to describe it...means its abstract..
    Good one...that's how I used to think. Alternatively, wannabes might photograph something random, and then try to make it seem 'artistic' by calling it an abstract.

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by zaren
    Objects have many physical qualities that maybe photographed. Primarily, we are concerned with what something looked like...this mountain; this building; this face.

    However, objects also are composed of abstract qualities that are not so easily photographed. An abstract quality such as 'texture' or 'colour' for example may be a subject completely removed from a specific object. We can take a picture of something that happens to be green but how do we take a picture OF green? We may take a picture od something that is smooth or rough but how do we take a picture of the quality of 'smoothness' or 'roughness' apart from the object itself? This is what abstract photography aims to do. It tries to separate a specific intangible element of an object and present that to us so that we experience that quality...'greenness' for example...as not simply a part of an object but as the 'pure' concept.


    Too many people think that an abstract photograph is supposed to be confusing and induce the 'Huh?' reaction but, in fact, the best of the abstracts give new information and provide viewers with insight into a quality that they cannot ordinarily experience directly but only as a property of something else. It provokes the 'Ah Ha!" reaction instead of the 'Huh?'reaction.


    Over the years, people have blurred the idea of the abstract into a catch-all for photographic mistakes and bad technique. You accidentally pressed the shutter release and what is, in reality, an unframed, out of focus, poorly exposed mistake becomes an 'abstract'! The really good abstract photographers have complete control over what they are planning to capture on film. The know what intangible essence they want to convey and that doesn't happen by accident.


    Good abstracts are perhaps the most difficult of all images to produce. Mistakes labelled as abstracts take no effort whatsoever.

    - Meryl Arbing
    Whoa...that is cheem. But in essence, I hope that I understand it. This is the way it sometimes appears: some abstract photos are truly unusual and allow me to see a side in something that was perhaps not easily visible. Then there are the snapshot mistakes that are classified as 'abstracts'.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo
    well i had a rethink.

    i feel inanimate objects make the better abstracts. meaning they give little arguement to what other category they can otherwise be in.

    while it's certainly possible to shoot say, a human body in an unusual composition thus appearing abstract. could it be under nude? or if it were with clothes, could it be labelled under fashion?

    what's the defination for nude? -only the rude bits?

    what's the defination for fashion? -only if the model has a face?

    it ultimately depends on the photographer. sure my photo may not look 'abstract', but may be you're not seeing it my way.
    Yes, nicely put. This is where photos blur the barriers between each category. But if I were to now put it into context of say, a project, or even a competition that requires you to produce a photo that is to be classified as 'Abstract'. What then, can we post? Perhaps I could take a wildlife photo and then turn that into an Abstract by matter of framing.

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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    wild thought ...

    art is always created with intention, even if it only occurs at the subconcious level ... abstract art is expression created with the intent to imply the immaterial order of things, the physical form of the tools used to create the art does not become a product of themself but are employed to, at the very least, suggest an 'oppressed' state.

    ...
    ...


  14. #14

    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin
    wild thought ...

    art is always created with intention, even if it only occurs at the subconcious level ... abstract art is expression created with the intent to imply the immaterial order of things, the physical form of the tools used to create the art does not become a product of themself but are employed to, at the very least, suggest an 'oppressed' state.

    ...
    ...

    catch no ball......

  15. #15
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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by zaren
    catch no ball......
    that's abstract don't bother, read too much Freud already

  16. #16

    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin
    that's abstract don't bother, read too much Freud already
    i don't associate abstracts with oppression....but liberation.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by zaren
    i don't associate abstracts with oppression....but liberation.
    oppression is not the oppression commonly known ... read about the 'political unconscious'

  18. #18
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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by zaren
    i don't associate abstracts with oppression....but liberation.
    it is about liberation btw

  19. #19

    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin
    it is about liberation btw
    abstracts suggest an oppressed state, yet is about liberation? catch no ball....

  20. #20
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    Default Re: What, in your opinion, is an 'Abstract' Photo?

    Quote Originally Posted by zaren
    abstracts suggest an oppressed state, yet is about liberation? catch no ball....
    the expression of the oppressed state is the liberation

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