One of the chairs around the table in what we grandly call our dining room, photographed against a black background.

An old image – wow, 11 years old! – and seen on this blog before.  Captured on film, and doubtless with the aid of a tripod.  I used that wonderful and completely gratis illumination, window light, and hung a black sheet behind the chair to completely black out the background – the sheet must have been in shadow, since that no trace of its surface textures can be seen.

A Minimalist image, and so to the mantras – less is more, simple is beautiful, small is beautiful – all very true, to my mind.  Most of the chair is out of shot, only three, separate elements remain.  This suggests a basic point.  An artist starts with a blank canvas and adds things to it, but a photographer (often) starts with a viewfinder or screen brimming over with stuff >>> now the intention may be to photograph all of the stuff, an entire landscape for example, but in many instances the photographer finds him/herself in a subtractive role, removing some items from the scene by altering the position of the camera and/or doing some post-capture cropping of the image, so that the photograph’s subject assumes greater prominence – as in this shot.  I’ve read that many photographers try to cram too much into their images, so that viewers’ eyes can’t fix onto anything – and because they don’t know where to look, they become visually confused and roam around the image and then out of it – and the appeal of the image suffers accordingly.  We live in an age of I want it all and I want it now!, but maybe I want less than it all! can be ok too.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found here.

Technique: F6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 200mm; Fuji Velvia 100 colour slide rated at 200 ISO; Bristol; 29 Mar 2006.


About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

4 Responses to STILL LIFE 144 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 2

  1. bluebrightly says:

    I like that the chair is still so recognizable, after being reduced so drastically. It’s a really nice photo – not just the composition and cleverness, but also the colors and textures and darkness. I like your discussion too, re the blank paper or canvas vs. the frame full of stuff. As you know, I am pulled in both directions. There are times when I want to include it all, to reflect the amazing complexity I see, something I love. And there are (many) times when I wish I could reduce the scene much more than is possible, without going into a studio. But I suppose dilemmas like that keep us going, right?


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, we thrive on dilemmas and, photographically at least, that is worthwhile/good. There are, of course, no rules. Wanting to include it all results from an urge to show how things are; wanting to be subtractive, maybe, results from an urge either to focus on one thing, and/or to make reality easier to look at and (?) appreciate.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. paula graham says:

    Yea, amazing, very good…I was going to speak about your ‘new’ way of seeing but was stopped in my tracks upon reading your lines!!


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