Abstract

Yesterday I was shooting in difficult conditions. I had been asked to take action shots of a soccer team. Indoors! They wanted shots of the players in action, i.e. kicking the ball. That demands a fast shutter speed, a fast lens and lots of light. The shutter speed I could do – but the shoot was at 8 am! So bad lighting. I had no other option but to crank up the ISO. Grain City! But with my fast shutter speed I still had to shoot at f4 – far too low an f-stop when you are trying to focus on a moving subject. Hmph.

So it is so surprise that my favourite shots were the group images I took (where the players were standing still), and something entirely unwanted…

Greetings from Piet Mondrian. I didn’t compose this image *at all*. It just happened. But strangely it turned out to be interesting how the lines criss-cross the image and create a pleasing overall composition. Well, at least in my opinion.

The power of coincidence. This happening to me quite often. It happened when I was shooting blindly into the crowd at the red carpet in Berlin and ended up with a couple of great shots that turned out to be more evocative of the whole scenario than the actual celebrity shots. Is there a lesson to be drawn from this? To stop composing and to just blindly aim nowhere and wait what comes out? Maybe only as enhancing bonus shots, but not as the general strategy, I suppose. Still, I’m glad I got this one…

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7 thoughts on “Abstract

  1. Servetus

    This post gets to something I ponder a lot — what is the correct balance between plan and coincidence in any kind of art?

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    1. Sonja Post author

      A really interesting question. I have always assumed that artists are working on a plan, something that they have in the back of their mind – a message, a feeling, a look that they want to convey. And simultaneously they are open to let coincidence guide them. It probably depends a lot on what medium you are working with – if you are sculpting with marble, it may be a bit too expensive to allow chance to guide your hand…
      Or maybe that is not chance but divine inspiration? In my own experience, things turn out best for me when my plan is thrown into disarray and I am forced to improvise. Like at the red carpet when I had to hold the camera above my head and shoot blindly.
      Not sure if you can put a percentage on coincidence and plan – but maybe something like 20:80?

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      1. Servetus

        yeah — I’m cool with that 🙂

        If you plan too much, the art feels affected. If you don’t plan enough, it can be haphazard, ill-constructed. Which additional word is too many, I always wonder, which of the many details I observe about something is the right one to convey the message, but if I pick just the right one am I being too stylized?

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      2. Sonja Post author

        Maybe that is the art in making art – being able to make the final decision, to pick from a number of possibilities that *one* which is just right. Luckily, with writing (words or music) at least you can edit to your heart’s content – it’s all in your own hands, less dependent on outside influences than when you are creating a painting, sculpture, photograph.

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      3. Servetus

        yes, I agree. I think of Michelangelo making David out of a piece of marble someone else had already messed up — but then again, infinite choices?

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      4. Sonja Post author

        Inifinte, yeah. I think it is also about allowing yourself to try and to fail. And not get bogged down by failure but to accept it as an opportunity to learn. For me, that is why I love improvising. It frees my mind because it lifts the pressure to create something *perfect* and allows me to fail (because the risk of failure is inherent in improvisation). (Different issue – but I also find myself much freer in artistic expression when I am working in a team. I think it is because of the shared pressure and responsibility.)

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