Looking at Images #8

  By George Barr

Chair Abstract

Ken and I had gone to Drumheller to photograph and I persuaded him to continue further north east to Hanna, where stands an old railway turntable and roundhouse. Now, I’d been there before, and needed something different. I made some photographs of parts of the side of the turntable (for another article maybe) and decided to wander around the back of the building.

I made a photograph of a corner of the building – but it was all composition and no heart, no involvement, no emotion and no one is going to see it. I poked my head into a small annex and found it full of junk. I was initially inclined to discount it but the annex had a second door round the side and from there I could see that the junk was a few rows of what I figure must have been theatre seats (I don’t think they came from any train). Two of the chairs were particularly interesting – the one you see above, and the chair next to it with a similar curved line of exposed stuffing to the cushion providing a balancing composition to the curves in this image.

I made a series of shots, using focus blending (blended in Helicon Focus) from a series of images as I gradually shifted focus from the nearest part of the splayed wood to the back of the chair.

When I had the blended image I wasn’t happy. The chair on the right (seen above) had muted tones and the beige wood, while the left chair had the glaring white of the still relatively pristine white stuffing – the shapes may have worked together but the tonalities didn’t and I did what I rarely do (because it doesn’t usually work), I chopped off the left half of the image (see, you knew you needed those extra pixels for something).

And now I’m happy, the image ties together.

 You might ask, so what is the emotional involvement with an old chair – wellI I was excited about the fronds of cloth hanging down like that and I loved the sweep of the splayed wood laminations sprung apart. I even was intrigued with the indentations along the top – I couldn’t explain them, and while I could make the image bright and contrasty, I liked the rather somber mood of the dark tones. Does it remind me of war, or love, or a lost relative, No, of course not, it is what it is and it is itself, not a metaphor, and yet it made me excited, it had a sense of rightness especially after the crop, and I have always liked finding beauty where it isn’t expected. That’s the emotion in the picture and that’s enough.

To view more of George Barr’s photos, visit georgebarr.com