Musings on Photography

Visual Field

Posted in process by Paul Butzi on November 22, 2009


With the website clutter mostly cleared away, I’ve been going over my photographs from the last year, trying to sort them into thematic groups so that I can make a few PDF portfolios.

One group that stands out is one I’ve mentioned before – a set of images that have little or no composition but are more just a cluttered visual field. Nearly all of those photos are bad. But the ones that are good I like a lot. To make things more interesting, if I arrange them chronologically, I can see that they evolved from being only loosely composed and gradually drifted toward no compositional organization at all. I don’t know what to call these photographs, so I’ve been calling them ‘visual field’ photographs, which isn’t really right but is better than calling them something which is definitely wrong.

Like my ongoing fascination with gates, I’ve no real idea of what’s going on with these photos. But it’s interesting all the same.

3 Responses

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  1. Kjell said, on November 22, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    For years I have had a tendency to photograph, or at least want to photograph random patterns, but I have edited myself very hard. These kind of images are hard to justify with talks about story and composition and all that stuff. It’s been interesting to watch your stream of images lately, because I have started to realize how they can be made to work.

    A traditional landscape can be beautiful in itself, like a singular image, but these random patterns cannot stand alone. A single image like this may just as well be a result of accidentally tripping the shutter while playing with the camera. A collection on the other hand, can tell a story and work really fine.

    So far I have only looked at my own “random pattern” images as single images, but I realize now that I have to dig them back up and look for themes.

  2. Martin Doonan said, on November 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I see it as composition in terms of elements present, rather than arrangement of the elements. The ones that are working for me (and I may have commentd to this effect before) have a few strong elements present – here it’s two or three colours of leaf aganinst the dark background. Limited colours, or directions or similar make these work for me, even while working against the traditional ideas of photographic composition.

  3. rvewong said, on November 24, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Finally some liberation from the dogma of composition.

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