And the paintings on the walls here are the best we’ve ever done
An experiment in abstract dreams
And the colors are colliding in strange, redemptive hues
What we’ve got here is a good, slow burn
What we’ve got here is a good, true thing
– “Stories in My Pocket” by Sarah Masen

Riderless – 13×19 inch black and white print produced with archival, museum-quality materials.

It’s not uncommon to hear people disparage abstract paintings by saying something like “Heck, I could do that!” or “My kid could paint that!” I’m no expert on abstract art, but I see a lot of it I like, and a lot I don’t. I’m not a painter, but at one point I bought some canvases and paints and decided to try my hand at abstract painting. I figured it would be fun, and I might end up with something expressive, or at least interesting.

Guess what?

It was really, really hard. I didn’t end up with anything I liked. It made me appreciate people who are good at it.

I don’t usually shoot totally abstract photography, although I do like to play with images to make them somewhat more abstract than real life. The lyrics of the song quoted above have stuck with me since I first heard it 20 years ago. The phrase “an experiment in abstract dreams” resonated with me as something I try to do through my photography, with varying success.

I shot this image at one of those traveling carnivals that had been set up in a parking lot in my neighborhood. It was chilly, rainy, and windy, and a couple friends and I decided to take our cameras at night and see if ended up with anything interesting. This one was my favorite of the night. Actually, I think it’s only one of two or three that were worth keeping at all.

Other than converting to black and white and adjusting some levels, there’s not a lot of post-processing. The motion blur was all in camera at the time of exposure, created by shooting hand-held with a slow shutter speed, and panning along with the carousel horse as it flew by. Although not technically an abstract image, I think allows a lot of room for the viewer to bring their own emotions and interpretations into it.

Available in the shop as a 13×19 inch print, produced with archival, museum-quality materials.

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