We are lucky to live close to the Deeside Way, a footpath and cycle track that runs from Aberdeen to Ballater. I walk there every week that I’m at home and I’ve photographed it in all seasons and weathers (there are some examples in my Deeside Way guide). I didn’t really think that anything different was possible so, increasingly, I haven’t bothered taking a camera when I go out, unless the weather is particularly dramatic.
However, a discussion about abstract photography stimulated me to think a bit differently about images so I decided that I’d try to take some abstract rather than representational photographs. So, I set off with a 70-200mm telephoto lens on my camera, auto focus switched off with the lens set to its closest focusing distance and its widest aperture (f 5.6). I thought I’d take a series of unfocused images and see what transpired.
My first idea was to photograph the rowan trees, which have a particularly heavy crop of berries this year. But I found that I preferred the images of the other cyclists and walkers on the way.
I discovered that the ‘abstractness’ of an image depended on how close the subject was to a camera. Not too far away, and the image is recognisable but as the subject recedes, it gets increasingly unrecognisable. You can see this in the following 3 images of cyclists. In the first, you can with a bit of imagination, see the bike. By the third image, all that you get is a blur of colours. I think this is quite effective but there’s no way that you can tell that there was a cyclist in this photo.
I passed a couple of horses in a field and you can see the same thing with these images. The horse is clearly recognisable in the first image (the red blobs are rowan berry clusters). In the second image, I got a bit closer but set the lens to infinity to create a very abstract image.
Finally, the image of rowan berries that was my original objective.
I enjoyed this experiment and I’ll carry on playing around with unfocused images. I’ll try getting close to subjects with the lens focused at infinity and maybe get results that are abstract but maybe a bit more identifiable. A less sunny day will lead to more muted colours which might be effective, especially as the autumn colours develop.
Obviously, it would be easy to overdo this but if, like me, you’d like to find a new way to look at your neighbourhood, I’d recommend trying this abstract approach.