Four Disciplines

Four Disciplines?

Obvious or abstract? I say either or both.

There are many subjects and styles to nature photography. Wildlife, landscapes, and macros and sometimes abstracts (four disciplines) are among the subjects. Obvious or abstract is a personal decision.

Wildlife can mean a whale in the ocean, a spider in your basement, or anything from the animal kingdom.

Landscapes in general terms, certainly includes the lands, water, sky and everything to do with capturing the likeness of some portion of this planet

Macros most often mean close-ups of plants (flowers especially) little critters which are also wildlife, and things like dew, rain, snow or ice or just natural patterns. All of course up close.

My nature photography world does also include abstracts. Just what an abstract is, is purely up to the photographer or viewer. My own imagery that “might” fit into the realm of abstracts might mean photos which are quite literal, but appear unique or abstract.

Let us first take a trip into the realm of wildlife photography.

One of the basic points to much wildlife photography, is to get an image that shows the world what this creature looks like. There is nothing wrong with that. I have in fact made many of those.

I have known photographers who would throw away the image you see below of a coyote just after sunrise. They would lament, that’s not the color of a coyote. They must think I either covered my subject with paint, or photo shopped it into this color. When a subject is in intensely colored light, until that light changes, that is the color of that subject.

There are photographic disciplines within disciplines. Behavior, is one of the most important when it comes to wildlife.

Caspian Tern courtship ritual. A male Caspian (on the right), is plying a female with a fish. I would think a nice bracelet or a box of chocolates, but I guess that he knows better than me. Most everyone does.

A Great-blue Heron preening. Simple enough.

Those grasses which are covered in water, are sweeter and more tasty than the dry stuff. You can also cool off, and take a bath at the same time. Smart deer!

Hungry baby and foodless mother. This Robin and baby, are obviously exhibiting behavior.

A Sandhill Crane crossed the path of a nesting Red-winged Blackbird and the Red-wing took issue with it.

There are a million stories to be told with the critters of the wild.

A lot of behavior is action oriented. This wild gosling is pecking at its feathers, and taking a walk and lifting its foot at the same time.

Then again, a straight on portrait can be the most sought after of images. They work especially well when the subject is making eye contact with future viewers as with this hawk. That is one serious stare!

The same can be said for this Snapping Turtle. Only mom and photographers love that face.

Nice close-ups, especially with spectacular species like this Brown Pelican, photographed at the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, can be quick sellers. Notice the larger White Pelican in the background.

One of the greatest thrills for any photographer, is to add a new species to their list. When that species is hard to find, then all the better.

Below is a Crested Caracara. The image was made at the same area of the Gulf as was the Pelican.

I have in fact tried to create an abstract of two of wild animals. Somewhere in my files is a pretty nice image of some Sandhill Cranes flying in mass. I used a slow shutter speed and panned the flock at speeds just a bit slower than they were crossing my viewpoint.

Really, it is in my files somewhere.

Macro photography as far as flowers are concerned, seems acceptable both as a way of showing what a subject looks like as artfully as possible like in the top image, and also getting “into” the blossom, along with pollen and shadows for more of an abstraction as is the case with the second flower.

One of nature’s easiest abstractions, is ice patterns, No need for abstract minded compositions here, just carve out (not literally) a piece of the subject, meter properly from something 18% gray, and shoot.

Morning dew covering a sheet web left by a spider. That seemed to me to be a logical, and abstract subject at the same time. Be careful not to bump the web, or anything within 50 miles that might touch something that is touching the web. I write from experience.

Insects are indeed wildlife, and at times need to be identified via the photos that we take. Morning dew is a natural thing that resides in their world. How about a wildlife subject, that is also a dewy subject, and a macro close-up? I find the beauty of the light be just as fetching as the beetle and dew.

This beautiful spot in Texas has certainly been photographed by many, although on my two trips there, I have had it all to myself. Warm afternoon light on an already warm desert scene, contrasting with cool blue skies, made this opportunity very much welcome. This is a non abstract, straight up, composition of the land and sky. A landscape by any definition.

This colorful image of a Colorado wildlife refuge, is as straight up as you can get. Contrast can be destructive to a landscape, but mostly I believe it enhances them. Notice that there is detail in every part. Here however, both the detail and the contrast are important.

On a secondary compositional note, this sky verses the water and land, is almost divided 50/50. I said almost. Even Steven can be boring, but close is no cigar.

This mix of light and shadows is of the Lassalle Mountains in Utah. No matter what your compositional choices are, it is all about making the best decision available.

I caught this one in Idaho from the side of the cliff. Head on shots were possible only by a boat. The angle is unusual, but there are no true rules when it comes to something like this. In the end, if the potential image has some form of power or redemption, go for it.

For years I have shared images from my two trips to White Sands New Mexico. People seem to love the white gypsum sands. Those taken at sunset where the sand becomes warmed from the late light, not so much. To me, both are accurate, and both are artful. Not necessarily artful by me, but by God’s nature and the variety it provides.

Landscapes can be obvious and literal, but then become abstract without even realizing it.

When I composed with the mountains that are in back of, and the trees and water in front of, the dunes of Great sand Dunes N.P., Colorado, not even visible in the picture frame, the scene became an automatic abstract. It helps to “see” abstractions with our mind, heart and eyes, as they are there waiting for us weather we pursue them or not.

Snow at the very first rays of the sun, barely skimming the surface, makes for a natural abstract. I absolutely kept my exposure low by metering off of the brightest part of the scene.

So, is this scene 200 foot long, or 2 feet?

I recognized the possibility for an abstract as soon as I saw those golden autumn colors, with some dark evergreens, and also with a mirror like lake in front of them. I love nice, natural abstracts.

This is a 50/50 composition that works because it becomes an abstract.

Whether it is photography or life, labels can serve a purpose. Let us be careful to recognize and enjoy them, but not be dominated or corrupted by them. Make your own pictures, but do so in way that they can serve a purpose.

Its funny, when I began this blog many years ago, my photography related posts were filled with a lot of images. As time went on I began to reduce the number of images to a manageable, logical number. Recently those posts are reaching epic numbers. I guess I am giving it one last push to get it all out of my system, even if I do repeat myself a bit. Usually I mange to post at least a few that I have never shown before.

That’s all for today,

God Bless,

John 3:36 –
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

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