Abstracting reality: zooming in



Zooming in can turn every day scenes into unexpected abstracts. There are plenty of examples in Hennie Schaper's photography.

In his own words: "When I use the term 'zooming in' for abstractions, I am not talking so much about macro photography with special lenses, as well as picking a detail of a larger subject to create the abstract photograph. In many ways, the imagination is the limit. There is no binding theme between the various abstract shots created this way, the usual abstract ingredients like line play and patterns will always come into play though."

Here are a number of examples, with his own descriptions (click on the images to see them in his Flickr site).



An early example, and one that collected a lot of faves on Flickr. This is a close-up of an umbrella used for decoration in a Hamburg shop.



A shot I took through a Paris shop window at night - talk about challenging conditions! It is a detail of a bridal dress.



Whilst shopping in Bocholt (Germany), we encountered an old Peugeot car that was used as decoration in a mall. I zoomed in one of the headlights, creating an image that hovers between abstract and surreal depiction (it sometimes reminds me of an insect).



One of the decorations in our home is a small crystal sailing ship, mounted on a crystal support. One day, while fooling around with my camera, I found that zooming on the support resulted in beautiful colours and patterns.



Most of the time for these abstracts, zooming in means getting the camera close to the object as well. This one is an exception: this is a cut-out of a large 76 number spotted on a wall. The composition, covering the corners, helps as well.



This may be stretching it (in more ways than one), but I still consider this an abstract photograph. The hind legs of a dog near our restaurant table in Amsterdam one day. Lots of empty space, and still interesting, helped by the little hairs shed by the subject.



Flower photographs are almost absent in my portfolio, but extreme close-ups of flowers are definitely my cup of tea. The patterns inside the flower itself make this a fascinating and uncommon abstract.



My wife's extension of her artistic endeavors into felting a few years ago have provided me with new unique opportunities. The colour patterns inherent in her felted scarves, coupled with a good choice of dof, make an instant abstract.



This one is all about curves and rectangles. The black and white conversion makes the white curve stand out even more. It is a zoomed in shot of a jumbo jet engine, displayed at Schiphol airport.



Not just an abstract, but also a study in zen-like elegant minimalism. This is part of a restaurant decoration in Amsterdam, shot under an angle to get a diagonal composition.



A shot taken in a coffee house in Kampen. A bowl of sugar-filled straws, photographed at sufficiently close range to make the shapes dominating, with the curve of the bowl providing a nice contrast.


Shanghai patterns 2

This is a shot of a metal fence in Shanghai, transforming it into an abstract composition with inherent depth that is quite pleasing. This also marks my first commercial success: a Singapore company purchased the non-exclusive rights to use it in their brochure.




Repeating patterns are almost always highly photogenic, and can often lead to interesting abstracts. This is a roof top in Shanghai, shot at an angle to get the desired effect, The black and white conversion is practically mandatory here.



A crowd favourite, and one of my own as well. Also a clear illustration about one of the general principles about abstract photography: "if your abstract is a detail shot, also take a shot of the overall subject for reference. It is embarrassing to have a successful abstract photograph, and when asked for more information, failing to remember what it actually was." All I remember is that it was in the German city of Leverkusen, and that it is a zoomed-in shot. But of what? A piece of art? A piece of machinery? I will have to go back there one day.....


Psychedelic [2016 200/366]
 
A close-up of a shop light, with conversion to black and white to further stress the almost psychedelic shapes.


Fiat Lux 2017-018

This is the interior of a large ceiling light in a clothes shop in Zwolle. There are worse things to do with your time in such a location than looking for abstraction opportunities...


Centripetal 2017-027

One of my personal favourites. I walked by this subject almost twice a day for many years before I spotted the opportunity. It is actually a detail of an air conditioning unit outside the local supermarket, I pushed the contrast after conversion to black and white.



This is actually the steel access plate to a ship moored at the riverside near our home. Flipped upside down for further alienation.