Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Is It?

Have you ever entered an abstract image in a photo competition, only to hear a judge say “I don’t know what it is” and give it a low score? Most people who have observed camera club competitions probably have heard something similar on more than one occasion. What a shame that some judges cannot bring themselves to like an image if they do not know what it is.

An abstract is art for art’s sake. It is not a subject to first be identified and then either liked or disliked. It is the photographer’s rendition of something that was visually pleasing to him or her. While it is perfectly valid for the judges to find aspects of the image that do not please them, it is NOT valid for them to discount an image just because they cannot define what the subject it.

Today’s image is a case in point. Truth be told, I have NOT entered this image in competition because as much as I like it, I do not believe judges will be able to relate to it very well. What appeals to me is the beautiful curve and soft tones. It has a calming effect and engages my eye in a pleasing way. That being said, I will be entering a competition in late February and may go ahead and enter this image. If I do, it might be the subject of another blog. Stay tuned.

I enjoy finding abstract compositions in everyday places and in a variety of subjects, including buildings, flowers, animals, trees, rivers and streams, etc. Sometimes it is the colors that create an abstract design. Other times it is a curve or a combination of shapes. Almost anything can be the start of an abstract image.

If you enjoy photographing abstracts, don’t let a shortsighted or highly literal judge discourage you. Finding abstracts all around you is a wonderful creative endeavor and can result in lovely and unique images. So even if you decide not to enter abstracts in competition, you should create them for yourself.

A weekend workshop providing a judge’s (that would be me) inside view on photographic competition is being planned for the weekend of August 2 & 3 in Northern Virginia (metro Washington DC). Details here http://awakethelight.com/competition-2014/   If you enter competitions, this will be a highly beneficial workshop.

So, the question of the day is this: what is this image? Can you tell what it is? Do you care what it is? If you think you know, or even if you don’t, I’d love to hear from you. Just send an email to awakethelight@charter.net with “What Is It” in the subject line. Put your best guess in the body of the email. Results will be reported in a future blog. And the best part is, there will be a prize for the winner. And ALL entrants will be eligible for the prize, regardless of whether they guess right or not. Since this is an abstract, whether you are right or wrong, you still have a chance to be a winner. That is how it should be for those who enter abstracts in competition! Forward this blog to your photographer friends and colleagues. All are eligible to enter.

Shutter Speed 1/500 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 200.  Lens: Canon 100mm macro f/2.8.
Camera: Canon 40D.  Handheld. Distance from subject was about two or three feet. 

TODAY’S QUOTE: “Competition – having put forth the best within you.”  --Henry J. Kaiser


  1. I'm not a big fan of abstracts--not exactly sure why--but this one is beautiful. The curve and the beautiful muted color really grab my attention. My best guess would be some kind of flower petal.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Linda! I appreciate the great feedback. You are entered in the contest, so stay tuned for the final results.

  3. I love abstracts and this one is well done and has me stumped. My best guess is milk being poured

  4. Thanks so much for your compliments! If you would like to be entered in the drawing, please email us BEFORE 5PM SUNDAY at awakethelight@charter.net with your guess. Since your comment came through as "Unknown" we do not have your email address and cannot process your entry without it. Thanks!