For a very creative challenge, why not mix things up and consider using distortion?
Most of the time photographers are concerned with realistic representations, but this week, we are entering the world of abstraction.
Before you run for the hills thinking this is too hard or ‘not me’, let me give you some great reasons to try this challenge…
Firstly, it will help you practice and develop using your photographic eye, in other words, the way you see and observe the world around you.
Distortions are all around us! How many times have you swum in a pool and seen something like the image above? We see distortions in reflections on polished surfaces, mirrors, glass, perspex and steel. We also see them when water bends light to create all sorts of beautiful patterns. Even our own eyes can distort how the world appears, producing optical illusions, strange perspectives and foreshortening.
Featuring distortions in your photography will also force you to look at your subject in more conceptual terms rather than strictly representational.
For example, the ‘Self Portrait’ shot above is obviously not how I look normally ( phew!) and it’s probably not the shot to put on my CV but, you could interpret something else about me, my sense of humour for example, something that may be difficult to portray in a normal portrait.
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Here are my tips to help you on your way to discovering distortion;
Train yourself to be on the look-out for visible distortions in your daily life.
Try setting up ‘studio’ distortions using mirrors, glass, water, oil etc.
This is a great challenge for a rainy day, however, when you process the images you may have to boost your contrast to compensate for the dull, grey conditions.
Think about the meaning the distortion is adding to your image story. Why feature distortion? Anonymity, humour abstraction, emotions and the list is endless.
Since you are working with reflective surfaces be mindful to shoot at a slight angle so that you don’t get your camera or you in the shot (unless that’s what you want, of course)!