Peter Elliston  

Always by your side by Peter Elliston

September 2021 - Always by your side

September 2021 - Peter Elliston


September 2021 - Peter Elliston

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About the Image(s)

Details: This image is a complete gamble! In a couple of months time my camera club has a theme entitled ‘Abstract’ - not something I usually relate to too well. However, I have been trying to create something which might fit and remembered I had for some reason taken a shot of a smashed car wing mirror some time ago. It particularly interested me because I could still see in the fragments of the mirror the fractured image of a dog which was still in the vehicle perhaps left there to protect it. The only problem was that the dog in the mirror was somewhat indistinct so I substituted another but similar dog (image flipped) to deputise for the original. The conversion to mono seemed to work to add some intensity and harshness as did the use of Nik Silver EFFEX 3. I thought that maybe I could use this as a kind of abstract and made a play on the fact that a wing mirror is always on the side just as in most cases a dog is too. Taken on Fuji XT1 1/125 @f4 ISO 200. Is it abstract or just a mess?

11 comments posted

Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
Peter - first of all, I like the image - though I think I would have left the dog a little sharper. I do not think it is a PSA image, it is more a rebel image: interesting but breaking lots of rules (clarity, single subject, rule of thirds etc etc). Again - let me say I like it - but I do not think it is an abstract which I understand to be something that you do not necessarily recognize but which is interesting (hopefully) due to form or color or perhaps oddity. I think this is "conceptual"; I suggest that once one sees the dog, it is a picture of a dog in a broken mirror and then you spark narratives.
I personally got drawn by the fact that I saw a skull before I saw the dog: the dog is the nose, with two dark eye-sockets on either side of the dog's head and then the white around to form the read of the head. Thus I ended up casting the dog, the driver's faithful companion, being left abandoned after the foolish driver's demise: drive carefully, your friend needs you.
All in all, I think this an unusually intriguing image - and one that really does need to be in B&W.   Posted: 09/04/2021 15:03:07
Peter Elliston   Peter Elliston
Thanks for your comments which are really helpful. I think what they confirm is that I find it really hard to do 'abstract' and I agree that this is probably more of a conceptual image and one which I often find myself drawn to. Interesting that you say you do not think it a PSA image which makes me wonder if that means PSA images are 'safe' in that they generally operate within certain photographic rules like the ones you list. A shame if that's the case.
However, what I think this also means is that it's back to the drawing board for something less conceptual and more 'clearly' abstract! If I can manage it.   Posted: 09/04/2021 16:07:21
Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
I should be careful not to sound negative about PSA. I have only been a member for about 18 months and by taking courses and using feedback opportunities and entering exhibitions (both in PSA and then outside) - I feel I have learnt so much in a very short space of time. There is though a perspective, repeated by many of the speakers who I have heard at my local club, that clubs and PSA can lead to a certain uniformity. Again, I believe I am a better photographer because of PSA, I just like to remind myself that it is not the only arbiter of merit ... and I think your shattered dog is good, it is just in my opinion more "LensWork" than "PSA" material.   Posted: 09/05/2021 15:42:39
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
(Groups 83 & 87)
Good afternoon, Peter, Gerard....let me chime in...a growing concern to me, and others is the danger of focusing on concepts, methods and practices from the PSA perspective: and here we find too often a repeating theme that revolves around "Competitions", and less on the Art of Photography - or Art for arts sake. In a recent meeting with all the Directors of Membership and our VP, I lead discussions in this direction.

Peter, your work is surely imaginative, and you must be applauded in this regard, as well as the execution, but similar to Gerard's comments, the work does not come off successfully: the work has no means of an anchor or otherwise detail to bring the viewer into a narrative. Even an abstract should be able to emanate some degree of narrative, even if only as a visual reference to a certain aesthetic (e.g. Wabi Sabi, for just one example), where the narrative is one that directs the viewer to enjoy and contemplate the understated, old and even the dying as a source of beauty.

A lot of what can be learned within the PSA (and frankly, a lot of local photography clubs and guilds, as well) dwell on some concepts as 'absolutes", but in fact, should be only casually mentioned to the student of photography. (e.g. instead of concentrating on the "Rule of thirds", I only mention briefly in workshops, instead I teach/discuss the process of "visualization".

There is a lot to discuss, indeed, and I look forward to continuing this conversation. Thank you.

Lance A. Lewin
PSA Black & White Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director   Posted: 09/19/2021 16:06:09
Peter Elliston   Peter Elliston
Lance, many thanks for your comments and for joining the conversation. I agree with both your comments and Gerard's as well as those from others in this group that this is an image which divides opinion. But I do agree with your point and those made by Linda that the image needs something to bring the viewer into the narrative. As a result I have re-worked the image so that it is clear the image is more obviously set in a car wing mirror. This is attached. I also think that this image reflects my feeling that the images I have been creating and editing have been turning them into 'safe' images to satisfy competition judges - so in effect they have ended up as not my images. We'll see how 'brave' I can be with future creations!   Posted: 09/20/2021 03:06:23
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
(Groups 83 & 87)
Happy Monday, Peter. This wider view is wonderful! As a consequence, I also see the Dog more clearly in its right-bottom location....together we are beginning to see a bit more clearly a story, or at least the essence within your style of abstract.

Our webmaster, Tom, recently replied to another similar post like this one (on the DD83-mono Bulletin Board that I administrate) and his sentiments mirrored your words: going beyond "The rules" and creating work that best fits your personal artistic vision as it relates to photography or perhaps one of the other emerging (and what I refer to as) "photographic Mixed Media" or Jerrold Levinson "Hybrid-art-forms" from his 1984 paper of the same title.

I look forward to seeing more of this work from you - just contemplate a story and/or invigorating aesthetic and then carefully visualize, meditate or otherwise become one with your ideas, the environment and your camera. Keep in touch, Peter.
  Posted: 09/20/2021 06:28:12

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Peter, I must confess that I don't get your image at all. I do, however, appreciate your creativity and the thought process that went into it. Had you not given your detailed description, I would have had no clue what it was I was looking at ...but that said, that is usually the case for abstract images. I agree with you that this is more "conceptual" or "experimental" than abstract. Good for you for throwing it out here and being open to the ensuing conversation.   Posted: 09/06/2021 10:12:43

Barbara Asacker   Barbara Asacker
Hi Peter,
I think it is a good abstract image. At first I see a skull, and then the dog as Gerard did also. My eyes are drawn into the frame trying to discover other hidden objects. The cracks add mystery. It held my interest.   Posted: 09/06/2021 12:34:32

Linda M Medine   Linda M Medine
I feel like this image is a great abstract image. I just gave the image a little more room and you could tell it is a mirror from a vehicle.   Posted: 09/08/2021 16:33:27
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Peter Elliston   Peter Elliston
Linda, thanks for your comments. I think you have made a very good suggestion here which I will adopt. Seeing more around the mirror provides essential context for this shot which I may well now try out in the 'Abstract' competition in a couple of months.   Posted: 09/09/2021 02:57:49

Randy Andre   Randy Andre
I wish I saw this image without the two originals to the right. As soon as I scanned the images I new that the mirror was on a car and that their was a dog in the vehicle. My mind went to an abandoned car with a stray dog sheltering within the vehicle. I don't see the skull that others have mentioned but I do like the story that I see. I do agree with the others about it not being an "abstract" image but what exactly is an abstract defined as anyway.   Posted: 09/12/2021 01:40:47


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