Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge: Challenger’s Choice (Abstraction in Architecture)

23 March 2015


I. Original

1. Barn Door; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

1. Barn Door; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

II. Post Processed in Mextures

2. Barn Door; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Barn Door; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

Let me know which you prefer and why. Click on each image to enlarge.


Truly, any subject can be recreated as an abstraction. Take a discrete part of the whole, and a non-representational force emerges. Compose a sliver of this or that, and the image becomes something unlike the original.

What occurs is a calculated or random redefinition of the known into an unknown rendition. That slice of the whole defies the first encounter. In  architecture it crops the subject into patterns of surfaces that are usually seen as alcoves, ceilings, doors, hallways, stairways, tiling, windows, exterior views, or… Areas unnoticed by the casual eye.

So why create an image that is unrecognizable? Out of context? Maybe it’s to seize intrigue and mystery that shows a new way of seeing the old. Maybe it shows a more interesting portion. Maybe it says so much more than the intact object. Maybe it’s a challenge to view a human innovation with fresh perspective.

Just maybe the new visual language is more enticing, more complex or more simple than the original. Or it does not have to be. It just may be a fleeting scenario that pleases the eye as a frozen moment of insight.

Maybe the reason is irrelevant. Maybe the final image is all that matters. Maybe it does matter. Maybe the impetus counts. In truth it’s all in the eye of the beholders.

In the Lens section are two parts: An original abstract image of a section of a barn door (which I discovered during a walk in a local preserve), and the same image post-processed.

My choice to select that portion of the barn door was intentional. That section reminded me of Abstract Expressionist paintings, art that swept through America in the 1950s-60s, and has never really completely dissipated.

The exposed wood, peeling paint and rusty areas played with color, form, line, space, and visual language in similar ways that those artists did and today’s artists continue to do. They also add an emotional response that very much inhabits what I see: an impulsive response to the visual universe.

Tip of the Week: For those of you who live in the southern California, there is an exhibition in Santa Monica called “Kaleidoscope: abstraction in architecture” that runs from now until 16 May, 2015. It is being held at the Christopher Grimes Gallery, and includes five of the artists that the gallery represents. The artists use various media, including photography, to interpret architectural features through abstraction. From the gallery’s website:

“Today, abstraction as an artistic strategy has reinvented itself for the 21st century, and the fragmentation of form is a common denominator within the majority of the works featured in this exhibition.”

The artists come from the United States, Brazil, Portugal, and Chile. Click here to view more about the show.

"Pine-Tree Window,” 2012 photograph by Veronika Kellndorfer

“Pine-Tree Window,” 2012 photograph by Veronika Kellndorfer

View other entries from this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog.

If you’d like to join the Photo Challenge, please click here for details. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Photo Challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

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58 Responses to Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge: Challenger’s Choice (Abstraction in Architecture)

  1. These are terrific, especially the top one-the textures are so intense, it makes me want to reach out and touch the surfaces-love the colors too-wonderful stuff!

  2. Ooh Sally this Mextures app looks like one I need! Both images look great, each for its own reasons. You started with an ideal subject for your mix of textures.

  3. yprior1 says:

    I really like the first photo the most – felt Dali like at first – and then reminded me of mid century leather peeling back – and like how you word things in your pens’ sections… “a sliver of this or that…”

  4. Tina Schell says:

    Your selection is lovely Sally, and while I liked both versions, I’d like to see a third version in sepia. For me sepia is the medium of choice for decaying subjects. That’s quite the set of decay too!!! Love it.

  5. Gallivanta says:

    I prefer the first photo, but, in both cases, I admire your ability to see the abstract potential in the whole.

  6. Madhu says:

    I prefer the processed image for a change Sally! 🙂 Love the layered colours.

  7. Cecilia says:

    I like the second one, great job. Congratulations on your talent!

  8. I love the subtle colouring of the 2nd version.

  9. Amy says:

    Another inspiring lens and pens post! Great image, Sally. 🙂

  10. What texture and colour!! Love both but maybe number one for it’s cooler look!

  11. Su Leslie says:

    Great shot. I love the way that you have only minimally altered the original. It’s an interesting edit, but actually I prefer the original. It is such a powerful image. Here’s my contribution to the theme:

  12. Great couple of shots! I often try similar ones so appreciate how difficult they are. The colours are lovely and the shapes and patterns really interesting.
    Love them.

  13. I prefer the original photo because it represents reality. The 2nd photo seems move viewable since it contains more color – but it is altered and not reality.

  14. What a great inspirational photo. There is a lot in this one. If I was there, I might easily have passed by the detail in this old door or alternatively taken a wider shot. I do always try to look for small details, but the end result you have here, has worked out so impressively (both photos) that I can see that I will now take many more photos of things that I have previously passed by! That can only be a good thing, right?! I do like the processed photo, because it enhances the warm earthy tones of the original timber door. The ‘farmer’s blue’ tells a story in itself and the cracks are akin to its experiences, event witnessed and the ravages of time and bad weather. In the corner the real door, its bare bones are revealed. The same raw timber showing in the first photo, is dark and weathered, so I do prefer the contrast of what appears to be warm (raw) timber underneath. An excellent photo for study.

  15. Because your subject and composition are so engaging, Sally I really like both images. I always enjoy watching a photo progress through processing and you’ve made some lovely choices in this post.

  16. Maria F. says:

    Brilliant, I like both of them, you choose great subject matter!

  17. I think I would go for the first image. Love the find.

  18. Hello Sally, your choice is very beautiful and the post processing was masterfully performed. Though I love the transformation, as it made it warmer and inviting, I still prefer the original one. It evokes serenity, a serenity that is achieved only after many life trials, which is here represented by the oxidized part of the image.
    Thank you and have a lovely week.

  19. pattimoed says:

    Hi Sally. The textures in this shot are great. I love the blue one especially.

  20. Angeline M says:

    I love abstract and you’ve given me incentive to go out and work on this aspect of phoneography. The blue color in the original had my eye going back to it over and over, but the second one’s colors lend a warmth that ultimately has me giving it my vote as favorite. Wonderful study of the abstract.
    We continue to enjoy incredibly warm weather here, and thus my post for the challenge:

    • Angeline, we live in a visual world filled with abstraction. Nature is also a virtual treasure trove of non-represebtation. Yes, your current weather is a lovely balance. See you soon. Thanks.

  21. Although I do like the second one with the blended colors, my preference is the original. It’s almost like a topographical map or a flower pushing its way along underneath the layers of paint. So many things! Plus, I really like that shade of blue! 😀

  22. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Hi, Sally. I am casting my vote in favor of the original photo. While the edited version is a well done colorful photo in its own right, there is something about that shade of blue in the first one that captures my attention and soothes my inner self. You have done a good job on both images. Ω

  23. There are many reasons for seeking out abstractions in art. For me it’s definitely to do with mystery and having an open end to emotions evoked by the piece of art. Each can interpret and see it as he or she wants to. As for your abstraction in this post; I see the grill and a light of an old 50’s car – particularly in the first unprocessed image – which is also my favourite of these two.

  24. elisa ruland says:

    There are quite a few layers of history peeling off the barn door, which is why I like the first photograph. It tells the true story. (But I do like the effects on the second.)
    Take care, Sally!

  25. Jane Lurie says:

    Great detail and colors. I do like the original very much.

  26. Nato says:

    I love the shots! I had to stare for a bit to decide which I preferred. It was hard. I finally decided that the processed one beat out the first. That is only because I am partial to blended multicolored photographs. I could see this photo hanging in my house. It is truly art:) You bring up some good questions on the reasons for abstracts. Only after blogging, did I start to create abstracts. And what fun it has been!
    Here is my post for today’s challenge:

  27. We’re great minds on the same abstract path this week, Sally. 🙂 I like the section you chose to photograph, as there’s so much of interest in just that small bit. I love the blue of the original, but I think that the processing gives a different feel to the details. Toss-up this week.

    Have a snow-free, lovely, spring week!


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