From Soap Bubbles to Emotion: How I Create Abstract Macro Photography

SOAP BUBBLE

I enjoy viewing and creating abstract art. Whether it is paintings or photography, I like it. I have experienced some “I do not get it” from people over the years, and I can understand why. Not everyone appreciates art that does not try to represent reality through clear and exact visuals. Using our imaginative mind, abstract art can pursue a presence through shape, form, color, and texture, as shown in the example above, a tiny soap bubble where the mere essence of a thing creates the art.

In this article, I attempt to describe what drives my process to create abstract art found through macro photography. I share images with explanations for where the inspiration to create the work came from or the interpretation of what the image represents to me. The genre is macro photography; I search the small macro world on my studio table to create abstract art as I project light through transparent and translucent objects. In closing, I list my equipment and share my process. With all of this being said, let’s get started.

WALKING IN THE RAIN

[ WALKING IN THE RAIN ]

WALKING IN THE RAIN

I studied art in Manhattan and worked for ad agencies in the city during and after my education there. My time spent there would produce some of my fondest memories. I am not a city person, but New York City is a special place for me. Walking In The Rain epitomizes my many walks in and around the theatre district of Manhattan. It also reminds me of the countless lunch breaks spent looking out from a rain-soaked window, gazing down at shiny streets reflecting the glowing lights of Time Square. It was a magical time in my life, working with a team of creatives while learning new skills I would carry throughout my career. I am sure most of us have experienced moments where a song or piece of art acts as a time capsule that takes us back momentarily to that special place; this is one of mine.

RHYTHM & MELODY

[ RHYTHM & MELODY ]

RHYTHM & MELODY

Abstract art can entertain me as much as music can. As a visual artist, it is the essence of the emotional space I seek to create in abstract work. In the image Rhythm & Melody, I perceive the strong vertical lines as rhythm measures and the melodic flow of color as melody. Because I grew up in a home where jazz music was revered and played daily, I often relate music with color. In this image, I feel the beat of reggae. I was in high school when I first began listening to Bob Marley. His music, as well as other musicians, has influenced my creativity. Without them, I would have had too few creative teachers.

FALLING COLOR

[ FALLING COLOR ]

FALLING COLOR

Years after art school, I was a part-time literature major at Georgia State University. I was not seriously pursuing a degree in literature, just seeking a literature education to help guide me through the classics. I got lucky when I was able to study poetry with Leon Stokesbury, as his guidance was invaluable. One of the poems Dr. Stokesbury shared that left a big impression on me was James Dickey’s “Falling.” Dickey’s poem quickly grew roots in my creative memory. “Falling” is a beautiful piece of literature based upon a true-to-life tragic event. In the Falling Color image, I awakened Dickey’s creative story of free-falling from my memory. Even though the image does not project the dichotomy of beauty and tragedy as Dickey presents, it steers my thoughts toward the boldness of red, translating to blood and the sense of falling from the movement caused by the diagonal lines. Your interpretation will differ from mine, as that is what abstract art promotes; imaginative thinking. This example illustrates how I find conceptual creativity through literature.

ODE TO KANDINSKY

[ ODE TO KANDINSKY ]

ODE TO KANDINSKY

One of my favorite abstract artists is Wassily Kandinsky. I enjoy the work he produced from his Bauhaus period (1922–1933) and beyond. It is only fitting that I name an image in his honor. This image represents how pieces of art can influence your creativity.

REVIVE

[ REVIVE ]

REVIVE

How would you feel if you and your first love reunited after decades apart? It happened to me, and the magic remained there after all those years. It was a fascinating chapter of my life filled with emotion and mystery. A beating heart in this image represents our shared passion, a heart full of energy, hope, and excitement. There is also a grittiness washing over everything, representing the jagged uncertainty that guided me, with the yellow symbolizing the caution I would never let go of. Our challenges were full of highs and lows, but ultimately, our incompatibilities repeatedly reminded me of the inharmonious life I would have had if I had stayed in the relationship. C’est la vie!

This is an example of how an emotional experience can be a reservoir for the creative mind. I find expressing my emotions through abstract shapes, colors and textures a release of energy. Did I set all the elements up to tell the story, or did the story find me while experimenting with the parts? It found me. We may never fulfill an opportunity for expression if we do not immerse ourselves in a journey of visual discovery because inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.

SPACETIME

[ SPACETIME ]

SPACETIME

Spacetime combines the three dimensions of space with the fourth dimension of time. Einstein’s universe fascinates me, and I can only learn from the sidelines and leave my daydreaming to science fiction. Reading “clocks on the surface run more slowly than clocks in outer space” [Gravity as Curved Spacetime] reminds me of how insignificant things are when viewing the bigger picture. There is so much yet to be discovered. This image is just pure science fiction to me. It is an example of how my imagination gets to play with the tools of photography and tiny pieces of glass and glass objects. The ability to fly has always been a thrilling thought and would be my superpower of choice. How about you? What would your chosen superpower be?

FINAL THOUGHTS

The equipment I use specifically for this type of shooting is the Sigma SD1M camera, 70mm F/2.8 EX DG macro lens, and an APO Teleconverter 2x EX DG. The Sigma Foveon sensor has a beautiful color palette I enjoy working with for abstract color rendering. Also necessary are a lightbox, copy stand, and artificial lighting.

I photograph items that allow light to pass through at the macro level. Items created from colored and clear glass & plastics, like jewelry, translucent colored gels, shards of glass, buttons, bottles, package components, soap bubbles, etc.

I recommend Don Komarechka’s book, Macro Photography: The Universe at Our Feet, if you want to learn more about macro photography; it is a great book. As you can see, I get inspiration from a lot of things. This type of photography is pure creative fun for me. Try abstract macro photography with stuff you have around the house; you might enjoy it.