Last time we were in Norfolk i spent a lot of time shooting with the Xpan and thinking about the composing in thirds. Which lead to things such as this:

Yesterday, going through some of the digital stuff, that never got processed, there were some other obvious attempts at composing with strict thirds. At most it’s probably supposed to be a rough guide line for proportions in pictures, but like many such guides, taking it to extremes is interesting. One of the shots was this one:

which ended up looking best cropped to 16:9. The different tones / textures of grey are somewhat pleasing. It obviously fades out as it moves up…

One thing tends to lead to another, and it occurred to me that taken to the extreme, such an image could be reduced down to three bands of colour. After some consultation with Sven, who supplied me with this:

BufferedImage intermediate =
    new BufferedImage(1,3,BufferedImage.TYPE_3BYTE_BGR);
BufferedImage scaledImage =
    new BufferedImage(in.getWidth(),in.getHeight(), BufferedImage.TYPE_3BYTE_BGR);

double scaleX = 1.0 / in.getWidth();
double scaleY = 3.0 / in.getHeight();
AffineTransformOp op =
    new AffineTransformOp(AffineTransform.getScaleInstance(
op.filter(in, intermediate);        

AffineTransformOp op2 =
    new AffineTransformOp(
    1.0 / scaleX, 1.0 / scaleY),
op2.filter(intermediate, scaledImage);

The image can be reduced to the absolute minimum:

There we have it: artistic <cough> minimalism, maximal nerdism!

Update: now with pseudo-random noise related to the standard deviation from the average within the given third. A pseudo-randon amount of the std dev is applied to each pixel. As you can see there is more ‘noise’ in the bottom third, as there is more variation in the original image.

And, using a slightly different algorithm for colour, where the standard deviation for each of red / green / blue is separately applied (randomly):


15 thoughts on “Minimalism

    • it’s a plan ๐Ÿ™‚ seriously considered scripting it to run on everything that gets uploaded to flickr ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Looks like you are on to something. You’ll have to divide the idea into different locations, beach, city etc. See what you get.
    And, just to kill any free time you have: you’re good at Java. Go download processing from and throw a bit of code around in there. You may end up making your own filter for your shots. Combine the two skills ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Processing looks terrifying. Such comments are better directed at Sven (old skool demo scene programmer) than me.

      The feature that i’m working on being able to reproduce is introducing enough ‘noise’ into the target image such that it has a similar ‘tone’ to the original. Looking at the original it’s obvious that the variability in the colour increases in each third (top to bottom). That might be enough to make the image more organic.

  2. Nice. Reminds me of an, errr, artist I saw at the MOMA in SF who was exhibiting paintings which where the exact same size and the exact average colour of some famous ones (i.e. that blue guy from Picasso turned out as a blueish (#RBG code included) rectangle of course). Funny thing was that most of them where a shade of greenish (shittish, yes) brown.
    Anyhow I like your minimalistic shots and nerdy approach to trying to go further, which is not too surprising I guess… Go on go on go further.

    • Sven wrote code that renders Perlin noise ( “around the mean colour, amplitude determined by the std deviation with the Z beening a seperately scaled luminosity offset”. Unfortunately it looks terrible… i have some other ideas that i’ll attempt to graft onto his code, and hopefully get back some of the organic feel that is obviously missing.

    • Has been tipping down with rain a good three days a week!

      Took M. to see St. Pauli on Friday. Went to a B’day party earlier on Wednesday. Walked out past Altona along the Elbe. Climbed the spire of St. Petri. Helped Kai and Lio build a bed. Multiple boat trips through the harbour… and that was just last week! Oh, and we bought a sofa.

      The nerdism really only took up a couple of hours on a dreary Sunday morning… with a reprise after evening beers.

      In short, fear not, i’m staying sane.

Wise words...

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