Abstract Nature Photography – Re-ambiguating the Literal Landscape

(I'm consolidating my photography sites, so I'll be posting a few posts from other sites here in preparation for shutting them down…)

Among other things, I'm a professional geek – I get paid to design and oversee computer networks for my IT consulting clients. In that context, disambiguation is A Good Thing – the laws of physics must be obeyed and protocols must be adhered to, or nothing useful happens.

As a fine art (as opposed to documentary) nature photographer, I am far less constrained, and one of the freedoms I enjoy is creating abstract images of scenes I find in nature. In doing so, I seek to introduce ambiguity by abstracting visual elements in the landscape from their literal context. This allows the viewer (including myself-as-viewer) to interpret the image in terms of graphic appeal (line and color, shape and form), intellectual appeal (what on earth… oh, I see!), and emotional impact (…!…).

Portage Lake Iceberg Abstract 9495

My process for finding and creating these images is a continuation of that I described in a previous post. While photographing, I generally find myself working from the outside in, literally and metaphorically. I might start with a wide-angle shot that establishes the scene in context, and then as I explore my relationship with the place I focus on particular aspects that resonate with me.

Here's a quick concrete abstract example… 🙂 The first image is a broad, context-establishing shot, while the second is the abstracted area that most spoke to me. The third image is a variation where I played with the color to emphasize the coolness of the water.



The two tools I most commonly use to help me find my compositions are my hands (hmmm… does that make it three tools?) and a telephoto zoom lens. I hold my hands, thumbs extended at 90 degrees, to form a frame I move over the area of interest; then I use the zoom to explore possible compositions and make my images.

I find abstracts often lend themselves well to mindful / contemplative photography. Those initial moments of mystery, as our mind tries to identify the subject and fill in its context, are a special gift – while the monkey mind is distracted, our hearts have the opportunity to take in the image and be informed by it directly.

More abstract images can be seen in my Abstract in Nature gallery.

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