Category Archives: Abstract

Leaf, Cobblestones, Centrale Montemartini

Just a one-off today – a single leaf that had turned brown and fallen on the black cobblestones outside the Centrale Montemartini museum.

Leaf, Centrale Montemartini
Leaf, Centrale Montemartini

In travel, you make plans, and if you’re smart, you have either backup plans or you’re open to serendipity. I do a bit of both.

I had wanted to go see the Museo Centrale Montemartini, which is a collection of overflow ancient sculptures from the collections of the Capitoline Museums in downtown Rome, housed in a former power generation plant along the Tiber river. I had figured I’d go there on Monday, since most museums are closed on Monday, but the Capitoline Museums are open on Mondays. Well… long story short, Centrale Montemartini may be part of the Capitoline Museum group, but since it’s three subway stops out of downtown, it’s not like the ones on the hill overlooking the Forum, and it DOES close on Mondays. So I found myself in semi-suburban Rome looking at a closed museum, camera in hand. What’s a girl to do when faced with a loaded camera and a closed museum? Photograph the first fallen leaf of fall on some artfully laid cobblestone blocks in the museum driveway (and get honked at by a scooter driver for blocking the two and a half lane wide driveway). It also gave me time to shoot the bridge you saw in a previous post.

From Literal to Abstract, or What a Difference Lighting Makes

Two very similar shots of the same building. One in soft, diffuse light, the other in strong directional light. While both are about repetition of shapes and patterns, the one remains representational, the other, abstract.

Balconies, Georgetown
Balconies, Georgetown
Balconies. Georgetown
Balconies. Georgetown

And the difference between these two shots is about two hours. They were taken on different, but weather-wise similar, days, but one was taken around 4pm, the other around 6pm.

Atlantic Plumbing – Architectural Abstract in Color

This is, believe it or not, a brand new building in my neighborhood, with obscenely priced (although I’m sure very beautiful) condos. The rusted steel on the outside is intentional. It’s called the Atlantic Plumbing building because it occupies the former site of Atlantic Plumbing Supply. Late evening sun illuminates it perfectly, pushing the strong lines of the rusted steel and glass into deep relief.

Atlantic Plumbing Building
Atlantic Plumbing Building

Windows

An architectural abstraction at the construction site across the street from my office. This building has been an inspired location for me – I’ll be a little sad when the construction is done because the building will be all neat and new again and won’t have all the cool textures it has now. But it will present entirely new options for photographing, I’m sure, so I’ll adapt and overcome, as the Marines say.

GW Dorm Windows
GW Dorm Windows

For a recap of the other shots of this building:

Scaffold, Tower
Scaffold, Tower
Turret, Boards
Turret, Boards
Debris Chute
Debris Chute
Turret, Scaffold
Turret, Scaffold
Bolt, Brick Wall
Bolt, Brick Wall

Chinese Wall

Well, it’s not a Chinese wall, obviously, but it is a wall. And a natural phenomenon, light reflected on the wall filtered by the patterns of tree branches, ends up looking LIKE Chinese characters. They’re obviously not real Chinese characters, but they have a very calligraphic feel to them.

Chinese Wall #1
Chinese Wall #1
Chinese Wall #2
Chinese Wall #2

Looking from a different angle

 This was a simple exercise with my iPhone in seeing. I photographed the same things at two different times of day, from different points of view.   
  In many ways they are extremely similar: they’re both studies in form and abstraction, with the shadows of the things as the main subject rather than the things themselves (more so of the lamp post than the bike rack, but you get the idea).  
Can you guess which ones were taken in the morning and which in the evening? 

Notice the color, texture and angle of light in each shot. See how the changing light transforms the shapes and makes them look different. 

This was just a quick and dirty exercise, but something I recommend for anyone interested in improving their vision and technique.  

Architectural Abstracts in Black and White

If you recall an earlier post, I had some shots of the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture (I’ll call it the African-American History Museum for short) in color, taken as architectural abstracts. Here are a few in black-and-white. The building shape lends itself extremely well to these kinds of geometric abstract studies. I think the architect nailed the design prospectus,making references to the cross-cultural influences of Africa on the American experience.

Seen here against the sky it feels like a seascape, a reminder of the trans-Atlantic voyage that brought three centuries worth of slaves to the New World.

African-American History Museum
African-American History Museum

The bronze-colored metal screening on the outside has a tropical botanical motif. It is both protective screen and mask, concealing and revealing, ancient and modern. The patterning is reminiscent of Kente cloth batik designs.

African-American History Museum
African-American History Museum

The overall shape of the structure is that of a three-tiered African crown, but viewed from different angles, it can be a monolith or a pyramid, or the prow of a ship.

African-American History Museum
African-American History Museum