This second line-exercise uses lines to flatten an image rather than create depth.
In the 1980s, developments in camera manufacture gave photographers the freedom to take images without the use of heavy tripods and therefore the freedom to explore different creative techniques. The recognition of the photograph as a flat surface rather than as a window through which to view the world, similarly, allowed developments in creativity (course notes p 24-25)
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy used high viewpoints to create pictures with a flat abstract quality – (course notes p 25). I intend to look further at some of this photographer’s work, and will report my findings in my learning log.
I decided to find a high vantage point to take my images. From the top of a multi story car park, I could look down onto railway lines and I decided to try the effect. Here are my two images of the railway lines:
I was unable to get an absolutely perpendicular view. However, I liked the multiple lines running across these images and I appreciated the fact that these lines, whether largely straight-horizontal or diagonal, are not leading lines in the same way as in images in exercise 1.3 (1). These lines do not lead the eye towards something within the frame; in fact they go out of the frame. However, they do not upset the viewing of the images because the eye seems to remain within the image.
In both these images, my eye wanders across the whole image, taking in the patterns and colours. I am conscious of the frame, and conscious of the fact that these images could have been taken elsewhere and anywhere on this, or any, line of track, but, I feel there is enough detail and enough composition and contrast, to make these images feel abstract and modern and interesting. I tried these photographs in mono since I liked the image Boats, Marseille, (1927) by Laszlo Maholy-Nagy (course notes p25), and I felt mono might emphasise the ‘flatness’ of the picture. However, I decided I preferred the narrow colour range here which gives additional interest and contrast.
My next two images are taken from a position facing straight on rather than from above. However, I feel that the effect of the lines offers a further illustration of the impact of lines that do not create depth. Again, these lines do not create a sense of looking through a window onto the world or being able to walk into an image. They instead create an abstract ‘flat’ image that also contains the eye. These images feel ‘cropped’ in the sense that they are clearly part of a bigger picture, but, as a viewer, I feel encouraged to look at whatever is inside the frame rather than the frame itself. The contrast of colour and clear shapes provides the interest. In the first image below, I m reminded of the ‘point’ exercise since the green ‘point’ grabs my attention and then encourages me to look over the whole image. The reflections in the window add some interest and something of a sense of looking ‘into’ the image, but overall, I feel that both these images suggest the photograph as a flat and two-dimensional object.
I include this final image since I particularly like cityscapes or ‘roofscapes’ like this and I believe it shows numerous different lines all of which enhance the image without compromising it significantly as an abstract ‘flat’ photograph.
I am aware that the background (upper right) provides context – we can see that this is an image of city buildings against a wider horizon. However, I don’t feel that the eye is drawn to that part of the image, or to any obvious specific focal point since there is no real use of the techniques that create depth. There are no specific lines leading the eye to a point in the photograph, there are no objects diminishing in size to illustrate distance, and the diagonal lines (of the foreground roofs for example) don’t obviously lead the eye to a particular point. There are diagonal lines, vertical and horizontal lines, lines that lead out of the frame, curved lines, and lines that stop and turn back on themselves (centre left) and although the image is not two-dimensional, it feels more abstract and flat than especially deep.
I really enjoyed this exercise. I had initially found it difficult to imagine what I might photograph, but it is quite amazing what can be seen ten storeys up.
Please see my posts:
Exhibitions and Photographers: Bauhaus and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy