Abstraction in Early French Photography

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Abstraction in Early French Photography
This is the latest in a series of photo essays on early French photographers We often think of photography as the most realistic of art forms. But photography is itself a process of abstraction. It reduces three dimensions to two, binocular vision to monocular, movement to stasis, and often, color to black and white. While early photographs were seen to be uncannily capable of recording what actually exists (and this, some argued, proved that they were not art), many early French photographers in fact employed abstraction to produce specific intended effects. Gustave Le Gray, for example, used the contrast of light and shadow to emphasize form and pattern. Charles Nègre did the same, as do I. Nègre photography Contrast of light and shadow to emphasize form and pattern (C) Nègre (C) Fern Nesson Even nature scenes were also not mere copies. Each image was composed for meaning, depending upon the mood and emotion that the photographer wished to convey. Henri Victor Regnault included primitive agricultural tools and picturesque details in his scenes of country life. These evoke nostalgia for a simpler time. Nature scenes (C) Henri Victor Regnault Alphonse Quinet varied his focus using either soft-focus or sharp depending upon the scene he was shooting. His photographs of pastoral scenes are all haze and sunshine, evoking feelings of relaxation and peace. Whereas his photographs of Paris parks are clear and sharp, endorsing restrained enjoyment and behavior. Nature scenes (C) Alphonse Quinet
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Lead photo credit : Charles Aubry's subject was flowers -- dying flowers (C) Fern Nesson

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Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fern Nesson is a fine art photographer with an MFA in photography. She visits Paris regularly where she captures interior scenes. Her work is abstract, and brings fresh perspective to lovers of Paris, while also illuminating interesting museum exhibitions and cultural events taking place in the City of Light. She recently published a book compilation of the popular Bonjour Paris series "50 Things I Miss About Paris." Purchase this beautiful, photography-filled book on Amazon or contact Fern directly by email: fernlnesson [at] gmail.com. She's offering a special deal for Bonjour Paris readers: purchase the book at cost, a $25 discount.