The contemplation of the apparently mundane has long been a preoccupation of photographers. In the work of William Eggleston, for instance, the vernacular interiors and ordinary landscapes of Tennessee and Mississippi are rendered luminous by the eye of an American master of intense colour and skewed composition. In the work of Wolfgang Tillmans, the banal and the overlooked – weeds, an aeroplane – are presented deadpan, as if any artistic transformation would be a betrayal of their everydayness.

Although he once spent two months observing Eggleston at work, Peter Fraser’s colour images are both more ordinary and more elusive. He describes this new book, a rerelease of Two Blue Buckets first published in 1988, as a “director’s cut”. It baffled many people back then, though now it seems more like a precursor of what was to come than a bolt from the blue.

The title photograph is a good place to start: two plastic buckets, one sky blue, the other an even paler shade of blue, sit side by side on a dark grey floor. As Gerry Badger notes in his essay for the book, the first question the photograph asks is: “Why on earth would you want to photograph two blue buckets?” For Fraser, the answer is not just that they were there, but that their thereness in a world full of such disposable, mundane things is the key.

Untitled, from the 1984 series 12 Day Journey. Photograph: Peter Fraser
Fraser also photographed cows in a field and clothes on a line, as well as a rectangular stack of concrete breeze blocks sheathed in transparent polythene and the weedy interior of an aquarium. Though apparently random and meaningless, these things, he insists, are as interesting as anything else, perhaps even more so because they tend to be overlooked. In Fraser’s democratic way of seeing, borrowed from Eggleston and refined, there’s no hierarchy of importance.

The book contains three series: 12-day Journey (1984), The Valleys Project (1985) and Everyday Icons (1986). Here and there, one senses a personal narrative in the work, but it is never more than hinted at. The mysterious interiors – brown carpets, church pews, deflated balloons – of The Valleys Project, for which he revisited his native Wales, have an air of deep melancholy and loss. There is, too, a feeling of foreboding about many of his domestic interiors: the shadow of a man falling on a brown velvet couch, a ghostly yellow light illuminating the interior of an empty car viewed through steamed-up windows. Though his work has become more meticulously composed over the years, he remains an under-recognised master of atmosphere and suggestion.

Fraser’s work sits uncomfortably in the space between art photography, documentary and conceptualism. He does not quite fit in. Quiet and, as Badger notes, oddly scientific, forensic even, his images convey a sense of contemplative self-absorption. There is nothing as visceral as Eggleston’s Red Ceiling here, although the blood-red staircase in one image may be a sly nod to the master.

It is the two blue buckets of the title, though, that keep calling me back, their ordinariness so deeply observed, it becomes somehow elevated. It is this kind of deep looking that makes Peter Fraser’s images so compelling.