Two Dimensional Abstracts

Montepulciano, Italy

That third dimension can be over-rated.  Sometimes leaving the dimension of depth completely out of an image create a very interesting abstraction.

People give me a lot of odd looks while I’m staring at walls. It’s usually on a street in Italy and I have my camera aimed at the nondescript side of the building. People pause, hoping to see a fascinating spider or something, then move on disappointed.

Portofino Blue

Portofino Blue

For the last 15 years or so,  I’ve been hooked on two-dimensional representations of buildings.  Squaring up to a wall with my camera and organizing the lines of its doors, windows and exterior plumbing brings me a kind of simple pleasure.  It’s a restful break from the three-dimensional struggle that we photographers fight every day.  Any camera you happen to have will do, with a good old 50mm lens.  You don’t need a tripod necessarily, in fact the process of moving around laterally and vertically to organize the graphics on the wall are made more difficult by the tripod. This is an assignment you can photograph for sheer pleasure, and in just about any street you find yourself.

San Querico 57a

San Querico 57a

My suggestions for successful wall art images are these:

  1. Keep your camera absolutely square to the surface you’re photographing. This not only keeps your lines straight, but it sucks the third dimension of death out of the image, leaving the viewer with a flattened and therefore abstract view.  People don’t see this with their natural eyes as they pass through those same streets, so it can be startling.
  1. Study the surface you’re photographing and try several variations, arranging the graphics differently.  For me, it’s often the third or fourth arrangement of lines that finally comes together.
  1. Look for color contrasts and harmonies in your two dimensional scene.  Even subtle complimentary color contrasts can be exploited later in processing, so look closely.
  1. Enlarge these simple flat images.  You’ll find they have a wonderful effect in large sized prints, 36×54” or larger.  Whereas a picture of a sunset in that same size is typically garish, an enlargement of something people don’t normally notice can be exhilarating.

Enjoy making these flattened Wall Art images and rest your mind sometimes from the harsh taskmaster of three dimensional imaging.