An Abstract New York
On his website, Joseph O’Neill observes: “When we hear ‘black and white,’ we assume that is all we see.” His impressive portfolio is a strong testament to the power and complexity of those grey areas.
The works on his site are organized into various categories, from abstracts and noir to silhouettes, all almost entirely in black and white —occasional color is set against the dark of night vistas.
The overriding subject seems to be New York City: “It captured my soul as a child and never let go,” he states. And with the city as his blank canvas, his lens is ever on the lookout for objects, shapes, and patterns that generally go unnoticed by fast-paced passersby. His keen eye and creative vision transform these observations into poetic abstract images and imbue with new life and meaning.
“Tree Lights” is literally festive lights defining the outline of a tree at night. However, shot from an odd angle, the tree and its lights are reinvented; they seem transformed into the surreal of some biological creature dancing against a night sky.
Other examples of O’Neill’s ability to reinvent the otherwise ordinary are his geometric architectural abstractions. By shooting at night and varying shutter speeds, he eliminates all but the architectural edges reflected off each floor of this multi-level building, culminating in a repetitive pattern reminiscent of Frank Stella’s linear paintings.
There is a saying: “When you shoot a person in color all you see is their clothes, but when you shoot in black and white you see their soul.” This certainly is true for everything Joseph O’Neil shoots, be it a cityscape, still life, or person.
O’Neill prefers to shoot in the last hours of night or first few hours of early morning. He searches for visual patterns of man-made lights and then works to eliminate as much ambient light as possible by varying shutter speed, transforming the foreground into nighttime silhouettes, or lights into patterns against a night sky. This technique enhances and extends the beautiful grey range of his images:
In “Empire Reflection,” the abstract pattern of the Empire State Building’s reflection is exaggerated, spiraling up into a black, white, and grey Mondrian-like grid composition.
Enjoy this site for its highly inventive creative imagery and unique fine art photography.
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