'A' is for Abstraction

FOR A COUPLE of years I had a page here on flicker called ABC. I wanted to create a set of links to all sorts of different types of photography that inhabit the world. However, I kept forgetting to update that page and some of the links were broken so in an effort to keep ideas ticking over, I've decided to change it into a series of short articles with links for every letter of the alphabet. My own personal Anthology of Photography. I've shifted the emphasis to reflect things I might be thinking of when I think about photography rather than a list of technical terms or types of camera. So without further ado here we are at the beginning:

A is for...

When I think of ABSTRACTION in photography I can't help but think of Bauhaus teacher, painter and photographer the Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy. The Guggenheim Museum has made a short 3-minute video describing his photographic work and showing some famous examples. If you aren't familiar with his work do look him up. His pictures are really quite beautiful.

AIR. Lovely clean air. Well, it might be or it might be polluted air as observed in these compelling, eerie, yet beautiful photographs that were taken in the toxic smog of China's cities. Then there is the air laden with water vapour, drifting around the peak of a mountain in a thick fog similar to this photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge by Minor White. Or maybe it's a breath of air on a cold winter's day or the exhalation of smoke from a newly lit cigarette.

A few years ago when researching a short film I made I found some amazing footage of Colonel Joseph Kittinger who in 1960, became the first person to skydive from the outer edges of the ATMOSPHERE. I am still fascinated by this leap that was quite literally into the unknown. Fifty-two years later, in 2012, Kostas Tamateas, a Greek engineer, sent a DIY atmospheric balloon equipped with cameras and a tracking system up into the earth's atmosphere. He did the same in 2013. The resulting images of his homeland and the curve of the earth are quite beautiful.

My Lubitel 166U. Oh, how I love thee! I have a small collection of ANALOGUE cameras that I'm using slowly one by one. They are all between 20 to 50 years old and have their various quirks and technical eccentricities. There's much to explore in the world of these old mechanical cameras and this Canadian online documentary series, The Analogue Photography Series, does a great job of investigating the love that's out there for film and old cameras, without seeming out of step or fetishistic. Photographer Greg Girard makes an interesting point in his interview - 'the reason why I don't shoot in digital and why I find it problematic is that a digital file has no inherent characteristics; you have to introduce them and so it seems to me I may as well keep shooting in film seeing as it gives me what I want.' Lastly, here's an article about David Chan's camera store in Hong Kong. That's a crazy load of analogue cameras!

Okay, so I admit. I don't know a lot about ASTRONOMY but I do love watching programmes about stars and looking at photographs of the planets, galaxies, solar systems and nebulae. The pilot and instructor Ross Franquemont has a passion for photography. He flys the high altitude aircraft the U-2 which offers him a unique perspective on earth, its atmosphere and the Aurora Borealis. His resulting photographs reveal how spectacular it must be to fly through that enchanting light. But if your feet are firmly on the ground yet you dream of photographing the stars these How-to-Guides for astrophotography would certainly be a good place to start. You don't even need a telescope (or an aircraft). Just look up and out on a cloudless night and something might surprise you.

A Silent Fall, 2012

Using a combination of my own domestic videos and found YouTube audio, I made a film about atmosphere, earth and home.


Photos © Tanya Clarke 2018 (iPhone 6) and video © Tanya Clarke 2012 (Canon 60D)