1. not concrete: not relating to concrete objects but expressing
something that can only be appreciated intellectually
2. theoretical: based on general principles or theories rather than
on specific instances
3. arts nonrepresentational: not aiming to depict an object but
composed with the focus on internal structure and form
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft
Corporation. All rights reserved.
As most of you know, I love photographic abstracts. My preference is
abstracts of nature which were created with a creative eye, and very
little digital darkroom manipulation. That often requires an eye for
light and shadow, or texture and contrasts, and even rhythms and
flows. Sometimes a flair for geometric shapes helps.
Below are four fine examples of images that are paired down to
representations of real subjects, while remaining apart from the
Today’s visiting photographer abstracts are pure in their nature. They
are difficult to tell in most cases, what they actually are in life.
That’s one of the charms of “pure abstracts”. They are reduced to
form, light, color and rhythm. We are not confused by what they
I enjoy immensely all of them but I will say I have a favorite and that is
the third image. These appear to be ripples in the water and way the
light and color dance over the top is delightful.
I also really love Cemal’s image of blue on black. This appears to be
a visually selected and artistically treated image of something
man-made. We humans make an uncountable number of objects which
translate beautifully into abstracts.
I have shared many of my own abstracts on these pages that were
ambiguous as to what they actually were. Total abstracts! Today I went
for the abstract treatment of subjects which are fairly obvious. I
have used them for examples because when I made them, I approached
photographing the subject in the same way I did when I made pure
abstracts. In other words, they ceased to be what they are, and were
transformed into color, shape, lines and texture.
How we compose and/or frame subjects like grasses or flower groups,
transforms them from common subjects to unique. You could argue that
all subjects both great and small, become abstractions when we move in
close enough that they become color or texture or lines.
Sometimes it is difficult to see the trees for the forest.
To me, ice is almost always a visual abstraction. If anything, the
open bit of water brings this patterned and textured scene back into
the real world.
This next ice scene may be the most purely abstract image from among
my own, that I am sharing with you today. Sometimes rhythm makes the
scene, but at times “helter skelter” can be visually stimulating.
Okay, I say frost in and of itself is an abstract type of subject, but
with bushes and trees? That’s just a frosty roadside scene! Right?
There was a million (well almost) ways to compose pictures at this
location on that day. As the photographer (interpreter), all I saw was
tones and patterns. The fact that they are obviously trees was
irrelevant to the fact that I captured what I saw. The literal
subject, meant little to me.
Clouds and skies are pretty ordinary subjects, but they do many
extraordinary things. I was attracted far more to the blue sky and
silver clouds than I was to whole “the scene” that contained grassy
meadows. So I left out everything that was not sky or cloud.
These rocks, with all their texture and color, which were helped by a
low level late afternoon sun, are automatic abstracts. A real life
“ordinary” subject to most, but an “other worldly” subject to me.
Leaves are certainly ordinary subjects. Most of us see them every day
with the exception of some snowy winter days. How often do we actually
look at leaves.
Leaves up close, especially autumn leaves, are my favorite abstract
view of an obvious and ordinary subject.
A Navajo Sandstone land arch is never a common subject for a
photograph. There are not enough of them in existence to be common. At
times when I photographed them, they became more of a contrast between
warm colored rock, and cool blue sky than they were arches. Rough
warm rock with a cool blue hole in the middle.
We find our own abstractions in our own way.
I have shared a lot of images of this waterfall over the years. To me,
some of those images say Morgan Falls, and some like this, say soft
water with movement, and hard rock that is standing still.
Contradictions everywhere. Visual contradictions can be and form of
I will bet you this, if I was working with ten other photographers (I
wasn’t) when I made this photo, none of them would have made the same
image you see below. Of course, very likely each and everyone of them,
would have made images that would have never occurred to me as well.
We each see what we each see. It is up to each of us to capture and
share our own personal vision.
If your in the business of selling images, you will no doubt, have to
compromise what you create and how your create it, in a effort to make
a sale. At times, you may be on assignment and then you owe it to
those who hired you, to bring back what they want and what they need.
In addition to commercial assignments, I have already made fine art
images as a paid assignment. Otherwise, making images or doing
anything in the creative realm, is the perfect and proper time to be
selfish and follow your creative instincts. Learn the technology and
how to react quickly and decisively, and then satisfy your urges and
Become an abstractionist if you wish.