Fur & Feathers, Plus a Journey Into The (semi) Abstract

There is nothing that to me more enjoyable than watching and photographing animals of all sorts. Just observing them being who they are.  I spent much of my photographic life pursuing images from those experiences.

This male Red Fox treated me as though I was just an insignificant insect or even less. That meant I was successful in “not being” a factor in my own photo.

There is nothing like a mother and her child, be it human or animal. These foxes performed for me and three or so other photographers day after day after day. Unfortunately we the photographers, attracted many other humans as spectators. One morning, we showed up to find that mom and dad had moved the family. I am sure they found a neighborhood that was less stressful.

Many years ago I spent a couple of hours above 12,000 feet in altitude and much of it was observing and photographing young Yellow-bellied Marmots as they played. In the part of the world I reside in, we have the Eastern Groundhog which is a close relative to the marmots you see below. I have six slides of Groundhogs. That’s it after many years. I was making more like six shots a second with these guys. Take advantage of what comes your way. 

As great as mammals are to photograph, when it comes to the animal kingdom, it is birds that gets the juices flowing for most photographers. Birds are active, interesting, often colorful and photogenic.

Below we have two shots of Black-crowned Night Herons. They were both taken at  Horicon Marsh NWR in Wisconsin. They were made two years apart and the first bird is the immature (but out on it’s own) version of the mature bird you see in the second.

The first thing that came to my mind when I came across the mature bird photo in my files, was how beautiful the light was. Photography is as much about  the capture of light, as it is a bird or a flower or a mountain.

I will finish with a series of pix including in order, a Bald Eagle, a Short-eared Owl, a Ruddy Turnstone, and a male Baltimore Oriole. Knowledge, patience and persistence are the keys to all wildlife photography.

I’ve known a lot of photographers who seemed afraid of abstracts. In some cases, I am sure they just didn’t like them, but often they seem to believe that an abstract needs be a bazaar and complete departure from the reality of any given subject. While that can be true, and that can be fun, an abstract photo only means it differs from what “most” of us would see with our eyes, if we had been there.

The first image below is clearly a waterfall. I have narrowed down the amount “real estate” that shows in the photo, and I have blurred the water using a slow shutter speed to a level that we cannot accomplish with our actual eyesight. 

It is an abstraction of the reality we would normally see, if only slightly so.

This second image is obviously the sun and some clouds. Some of my images of sun and clouds are abstract to the point you are not sure of what you are seeing. The image below is no less an abstract than are the hard to figure out what it is type pictures. With that said, to me, this is still only a slight abstraction of the reality you and I might see with our eyes. The clouds and the sun are taken out of their environment which included land, water, and some cloudless skies.  I also added some contrast to this image when in the editing process.

Generally photographers stay away from abstract wildlife images. I have made a few and normally I employ slow shutter speeds to capture yet blur the movement of birds when they take off, land, or cross the picture frame with wings flapping.  I enjoy doing so, but it is not my favorite style of wildlife photography.

If you look carefully the Bald Eagle in the photo below, its wings and the edges of its body blur ever so slightly. The background which would be bothersome if tack sharp, is less so because it is blurry and almost dreamy. Instead of blending in with the busy background, the bird stands out from a dreamy background.  The bird is also traveling on a strange trajectory through the picture frame (belly towards us) which “abstracts it” somewhat.

This image,  in my mind’s eye, is a “semi abstract” that departs a little from the reality of photography, to add just a pinch of something different.

A photograph and any meaning or value it might have, is both in the mind the creator, and the beholder.

For those who struggle to find abstracts, a good beginning is to remove from your mind what the subject truly is, and view it as merely shapes, or colors, or tones. You may wind up with total abstracts or partial abstracts as I have shared today.

It’s fun and anybody can do it.

Happy Trails,

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2 Responses to Fur & Feathers, Plus a Journey Into The (semi) Abstract

  1. Darlene says:

    Outstanding images Wayne & what a true joy it must have been with the Fox. I love all the bird images here & yes the light is fantastic on the Night Heron! So great to be able to read your blogs again 🤗

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