The Abstractionist

Just what an abstract photo actually is, is a matter of opinion. Many would say it is a photo that is by its nature, or by manipulation, is unrecognizable as a subject we would know.

To me, creating abstract images has as much or more to do with how we pre-visualize a subject or a scene, and/or how we see the world around us. How we see color, form, texture, motion and/or substance, in addition to how we see specific subjects.

To me, photo abstracts at their best, are just another way of showing and sharing, literal subjects, but doing so way or own, personal way.

In some respects, abstract becomes a verb for me. I will “abstract” that scene.

I have a lot of them to share today. I have other images in my files that might be thought of as more abstract than some of today’s, but I chose recognizable subjects over obscure ones.

Dew drops or rain drops are natural subjects, and are one of the most readily available subjects to abstract.

Certainly orb webs with their seeming ability to suspend dew drops in the air, are the perfect foundation for dew and rain.

It can be extremely difficult to photograph this subject as far as keeping the webs and the drops from being deposited on the ground. Your tripod legs, your own hands and feet, as well as connecting vegetation can all be your enemy here.

Leaves of plants also make great foundations for dew or rain. You won’t often get the pretty patterns and suspensions of drops that you get with webs, but they still make nice abstract macros.

Flowers also make amazing backdrops for dew and rain. The light with this one is dramatic and that helps make it an abstract.

When you cannot get an entire dewy flower in complete edge to edge sharpness due to depth of field issues, shoot for the edge that will be closest to future viewers, or an edge that is at least prominent.

Leaves, especially autumn leaves can be a powerful subject with some morning dew.

Okay, what is this? This is a caterpillar so choked with overnight dew that it has become unrecognizable. In one sense this is a basic natural history image, in the other it is a major abstraction. We can do both.

Water in and of itself can be a major subject for your files of abstracts.

Falling or rushing water with either slow or super fast shutter speeds, is as good as it gets.

Frozen water and liquid water together make a nice pairing. To me, the abstract that we see here is in fact that combo of hard frozen water and soft running water. They create a dichotomy. How soon after this image was made did this falls become either an entire solid or an entire liquid?

Steam is water. Below, in this image it is balanced with hard, black rock.

While in Yellowstone N.P. I photographed a lot of wildlife as you would expect. I also created my share of landscapes and I even made a few macros. I could not leave this place without creating a primeval image of the earth’s steam. You might say, the earth’s breath.

Frost is water and on a fall leaf it is powerful.

Ice!! The blue cast in these pictures comes from the fact that these images were made in the shade. Blue light reflecting into the shadows can change everything about the mood of an image.

Frost on a broken tree trunk provides color, natural design, and texture.

These marsh reeds reflecting in the water make for a nice abstract. Look closely and you will see a bird. A longer lens or a good crop, and the abstract becomes a wildlife natural history photo as we get to see this bird’s habitat.

Abstraction and reality live side by side.

There were nice autumn trees to photograph one morning, but then there were some nice reflective waters as well. Slight ripples in the water made for a great abstract. We just have to “see” everything that is in front of us and regard everything as a potential subject.

The luscious colors of sunrise and sunset can turn every scene into an abstract.

This sunrise scene with lake ripples might not seem an abstract to some, but it is the perfect abstraction to me. Color, water, ripples and even some texture.

Sunrise/sunset clouds without an earthly foundation, but with the bonus of silhouettes within those clouds, are a perfect abstract of reality.

Sand at sunrise. Sometimes I regard an image as an abstract, because the low light levels seem unnatural. It is all about where what light there is, shines. What does it give some shape or texture to.

Sandstone rock with the colors of sunset, and the details and texture it provides, is an abstract to die for. It matters not to me that this portion of a rock, does not include the whole rock form. High contrast with deep shadows helps make this a abstract. There is also obvious texture in this photo.

A small peninsula, a quiet lake, and sunrise. We do not need more information when we understand and “feel” the mood. This image provides a “gentle” mood for us.

A small hill, the very moment of sunrise, and some creviced snow. Light often needs shadows for contrast.

This image creates similar moods to the rock form picture.

An abstract for sure.

Another! This was close to what I saw in my viewfinder. That includes the spread of the sun, and the soft, foggy aspect of the entire image. The correct (for me regarding this scene) exposure, and where to put that sun was my goal.

I love leafless trees. I love trees with leaves too, but I so enjoy their skeletal displays. A bit of sunrise or sunset helps.

Of course some deep blue skies, and some snow for flavor, and there you are. I love using trees for abstracts. Especially when they look like this one

.Composition, might seem haphazard here but it is intentional and it means everything to this photo.

Man creates his share of “abstractable: subjects.

The flight patterns of birds, especially when there are a lot of birds, make for great abstracts. Organized abstracts, but great ones. Those are Dunlins in the first image, and I am not sure for the second one.

Tree bark, a mudflat, and the shell of a turtle.

Notice that once again, the color of light effect the first two. The turtle got up too late for that beautiful light but I found the design including moss to be interesting.

Grasses, especially Foxtail Barley Grass, makes for nice, rhythmic abstracts. The time of year and time of day has an effect on our pictures.

To me, there is no better place to practice the art of seeing light, texture and shape, while developing personal art, than where there are sand dunes. There are many such places around the world including right here in America. Some are along our oceans but my favorites are Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, and White Sands New Mexico. Below you will find a portfolio of abstracts at White Sands. The white gypsum sands are natural art and if you should happen to be there at sunrise or sunset, the dunes will absorb those warm colors. Shadows will make for dramatic images either way.

What an abstract photo actually might be, is up to the individual photographer or for that matter the viewer of images. Really, who cares. The point is to create your images. When you do that there will always be some people who like them. Even when you make images to sell to the markets, which today are mostly online, you can shoot what they want, and then add a little slice of yourself as well by creating the images your way.

May God Bless,

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