Today’s post contains images that I chose randomly. The subjects
range from typical and literal, to more abstract, hence forth the
title Literally Abstract.
Most often, the photographic abstracts that I created were captured
when I was out in search of “literal” subjects. I would then notice a
play of light, or some patterns or textures, or some rhythms if you
will. All abstracts come from something that is genuine and real. Even
if it is low angled sidelight dancing off some water. The light and
the water are real. Still, every once in a while I would be in the
mood for abstracts and go out with my cameras for the express purpose
of “seeing” (and of course photographing) them. Frequently, it was
on those abstract excursions, that I would make some of my best
literal images, and on those literal journeys when I would create
The lesson is, always allow your brain and your senses the freedom to
see what they will. The universe is filled to the brim with visually
stimulating subjects, and we just need to be there when they occur.
I have been fortunate to have lived near water for large portions of
my photographic life. The literal and the abstract live there and many
of those literal subjects were among my favorites.
This male Hooded Merganser charged around from place to place as I sat
in my car only a foot or so from the water. I had a fairly low angle
and the waves were such that the viewing perspective was both
interesting and naturally artistic.
Ring-bill and Herring Gulls abound near the shores of Lake Michigan.
Gulls lazily soaring above make for easy targets for flight shots. If
nothing else, they were great practice subjects for when the
opportunity arose with rarer birds.
Those gulls also provide nice opportunities for great behavior
pictures. This one was feasting on a carp in some flattering light.
Shore areas always supply photographers with some great bird
opportunities as well, especially with all of the aptly named
The Sanderling you see below provided me with many views of it
preening. The photo below was made while I kneeled in the sand a short
distance from my subject. Notice the eye level view it provided for me.
Shorebirds (more Sanderlings) often break out into beautifully
choreographed group flights without notice. Every change in what was
happening, is a new opportunity for photographers.
Winter is a great time to be a photographer, and the Ring-necked
Pheasant was always a favorite subject of mine, especially in winter.
Two pals searching for food.
I had over three glorious years of fox photography. I was entertained
by several adults and many babies of which some were just out of the
den, and others at the point when they begin to get more adventurous
and slip away from mom and dad for a bit. Only one day did I have the
opportunity to photograph what would sort of be the teenagers of the
world of the Red Fox. Ninety percent grown and medium length hair.
That hair however is incredibly pretty and colorful at this point.
I had about three or four minutes with this “teenager” in a parking
lot which was on the edge of a forest. He/she was quite interested in
me, but not particularly fearful. I gave my subject a fair amount of
I think every wildlife photographer always remembers those subjects
which are less common, and we only have gotten one or two
opportunities to see in the wild, let alone photograph.
My pal Ron and I were cruising a small dirt, remote mountain road in
Colorado, when he noticed this North American Badger peak its head out
of a roadside den. I swung the car around an headed back and stopped
at the den. It again looked out of the den. I shut the car off to
reduce vibrations, and after a couple of images each, it turned and
went inside. We waited to no avail and then I restarted the car. It
came out again. We repeated this entire process three or four more
We didn’t get a lot of varied pictures that day, but it remained
burned in our memories.
I love backcountry wilderness roads for all that is found there.
Now from the literal to the abstract.
As I hiked along a river in the northwoods of Wisconsin, I could hear
a waterfall in the distance. It was small, but hauntingly beautiful in
its own way. As soon as I saw it, my mind raced with abstractions of
“water ropes” and little else.
This location and the images it provided me was an unplanned surprise, and
almost every image I made could be described as an abstract, be they
abstracts that are clear and concise as to what the subject actually
is, or muddled a bit as to their identity.
Sunrise/sunset silhouettes provide photographers with an uncountable
number of “semi abstracts”. I am sure I have images of this morning
scene which are even more abstract. All color and shape. I always
liked this one a little better for reasons which I cannot put into
Light shadow, color and texture is a combination that in many ways
spells out abstract.
This beach at sunrise meant initially to me, large scale sunrise
photos. I began making smaller and smaller images of lesser and lesser
areas of sand, but no water or sky. Everyone has their own vision.
This next image is by far my favorite photo that I share with you
today. It is, sand, water, light and shadows. I began that morning in
search of abstracts and my mind was honed in to featureless scenes
with light and shadow.
Be it subjects from nature or man, there are countless abstracts that
appear in front of us every day.
Literal or abstract, one great escape from the daily pounding that we
experience in this world, is to go out and photographically create
what we see and/or what we feel.