"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Southeastern Winter Abstracts (1 of 2)

Southeastern Winter Abstracts (1 of 2)

From The Photographer’s Mind: Creative Thinking for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman:

“[What] inspires a photographer to raise the camera may be entirely without substance, something that pervades the entire scene. In this case, I’m specifically thinking about light, and most of us at some time simply find the lighting conditions so attractive or interesting that we want to photograph them interacting with something, anything. Exactly what the light is striking becomes much less important than its own quality…. Color, too, attracts the attention of some photographers as a subject in its own right. Even more than light, it offers the possibilities of abstracted compositions in which the color combinations themselves appeal, regardless of what physical objects they are part of.”

From More Than a Rock: Essays on Art, Creativity, Photography, Nature, and Life by Guy Tal:

“It may seem that the photographic medium, recording light reflected off actual subjects, is unsuitable for abstraction, but this is obviously not true. Like any other artist, the photographer may willingly omit significant details to force their viewers into an experience they may not notice if distracted by the literal recognition of superfluous elements. 

“In a sense, every photograph extracts a selection of elements from a greater context, allowing the artist to isolate such things as line, pattern, and form by means of careful composition, to a point where the literal subject may become altogether unrecognizable. As such, in photography we can talk not only about a work being abstract or literal, but also about degrees of abstraction.”

As I mentioned in a previous post — Work, Walk, Discover: Hydrangeas in Winter — I’m working on several sets of photos from numerous walks through the ‘hood, where I’m hunting out bits of winter color. For this post and the next one, I separated out those images that were more abstract — those with simple or stark shapes and textures. Here’s the first batch, showing the presence of a dominant color (or two) against a textured natural or manmade (concrete, stone, or brick) background.

Here’s the second batch. On one side of a roadway that bisects the cemetery gardens, there are a dozen flowering dogwoods that, of course, have lost their leaves but are already beginning to produce buds that will burst out as new flowers in late February or early March. These eight photos — simply colored, monochromatic, almost black-and-white — seemed to work out well because it was a cloudy day and the filtered sunlight gave their whites and grays (as well as muted blues and background greens), a bit of silver cast that processed nicely in Lightroom.

From the first two photos, you can see how densely the branches and buds on a single tree are packed; and behind them are another dozen or so additional dogwoods that added to the sense that there are hundreds more flowery branches, just dormantly biding their time. While walking among these trees, I found just one remaining spent leaf turned by autumn, the tiny marionette — surprise! — in the last photo.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!


    1. Dale

      Thanks, Laurie. I’ve been having a good time on my “color hunts” … lots of fun just aiming the zoom lens at some apparently colorless plants, then finding these little gems of red, yellow, and gold hidden inside!

    1. Dale

      Thanks, Irene. I love photography books, and use them frequently for ideas or, as often, to help me understand or explain the work I’ve already done! Guy Tal’s book is a good one about photography and creativity, and all of Michael Freeman’s books are great tutorials for how to think about photography generally.

      Thanks for the comment!

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