Hommage à Mondrian

January 08, 2016  •  1 Comment

Hommage à MondrianHommage à Mondrian




I have written before about the unconscious influence of accumulated art appreciation on my taste in images and composition of subjects. In this case, when I came across a tastefully decorated building in Columbia University’s Manhattan campus I was entirely conscious of a graphic connection to the work of Piet Mondrian and wanted to honour it.


It may be that the architect was similarly touched by the style of the abstract painter, although the entire building does not give the Mondrian effect, only the section that I chose to frame. Therefore, this is a small section of a large edifice, photographed from a few feet away. Happily, a bright sunny day in a New York Summer provided sharp, dark shadows, which fit in with the black line structures in Mondrian’s works.


Since a hommage should still respect the style of the honourer, as well as the honouree, I enjoyed the challenge of using the linear forms and texture of the surfaces to compensate for the total absence of the primary colours that so characterise the painter. That said, a few of his works are almost absent of colour and consist of linear patterns on white.


The Henri Cartier Bresson “Dance”


Talking of influences.there is film of HCB engaged in street photography, where he bobs and weaves, ducks and dives, as he searches for the perfect frame for his targeted subject. Due to A) my lack of a monopod or tripod to stabilise the camera and B) my desire to achieve a direct print, with no cropping, my “dance” on this occasion consisted of microscopic movements. (Honest admission: I eventually did have to crop a tiny amount from the right hand edge)


When paying maximum attention to what is in the viewer,

I always need to take small steps to left and right, forward and backwards, when framing scenes, in order to move the elements of the scene marginally, into the – hopefully - perfect arrangement. Similarly when moving around in a particular place, I always turn around and look back at what I may have already photographed, because the perspective and composition will have change into something quite different, even in a short distance.




Due to the marvelous light, this was an easy image to set up. ISO, aperture and speed were all perfect assists to the lack of a tripod to frame the image inch perfectly.




Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 60mm f2.8D Prime

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture Priority

Aperture: f/14

Shutter Speed: 1/250s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 200

Hand held


How deep are the visual influences that unconsciously affect you when you frame an image? Do you connect your appreciation of visual art to your photography?



Copyright Paul Grayson 2016


Tu démarres l'année sur les chapeaux de roue. Ta photographie est pour moi "parfaite". La composition est excellente, les lignes sont parfaitement rectilignes. La couleur unie avec les ombres est très réussie. Tout y est. J'adore ! L'année 2016 sera Paul Grayson !
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