Abstract art uses color, shape and line to create a pleasing image. That image may or may not represent something real. In photography, you arrive at the result through a different route. You find a candidate and create a composition that emphasizes the pattern created by the color, shape and/or line over the subject itself.
I am a primarily a landscape photographer. As I progressed and learned more about that art, I became fascinated with the questions about how a scene evolved; what processes shaped it in the past and what processes are shaping it today. As I observed, I began to see the patterns and to understand how to recognize the effects of the wind, water and tectonic events that influenced it. I also began to see how the patterns repeated themselves in different ways in different objects. It is those patterns that often make a wonderful abstract image.
On a recent cross-country trip, we flew over the high plains of Kansas and the foothills and peaks of the Rocky Mountains. In many places the snowpack was broken; ice and snow lay in the crevices where snowmelt flows, while the remaining surfaces were clear. I was struck by the patterns that I saw. Erosion created patterns like those of a bush branching or leaves branching on a stem. In one spot, I saw a fish backbone with its tiny ribs extended. Using my trusty phone camera, through an airplane window, I created some abstracts from the landscapes I love.
I hope you enjoy these images. Reflect on the patterns – what do you see?
Note: Click on Caption to see larger, higher resolution image
In October, 2015, Donna and I made a tour of the Great Basin area in Nevada. I recently revisited the images I took during that trip and decided to get them ready to publish. The first image is of a special Joshua Tree forest. It is special because, over the mountains,behind the forest, lies Groom Lake, the fabled Area 51. I wonder what you’d see if you were a bug on one of the trees. The second image is of a rainstorm over the desert. It is raining in the distance as crepuscular rays cast their beams over the desert landscape. The third image is a rainbow over Death Valley. I’ve published a version of this image before but wasn’t happy with it. Now it’s back and will be one of the images featured in my show at ACAI Gallery and Studios beginning December 17. The fourth image is one of Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley. It too will be displayed in my show.
We are fortunate this year that El Niño gave us a respite from the drought; a good snow pack in the Sierra! I moved to northern California 4 ½ years ago. My wife told me many times that the ephemeral waterfalls, those that dry up and go away quickly, make Yosemite especially beautiful in early spring. But years of drought gave us little snow, leaving those falls dormant or very short lived. I never had a chance to experience them.
Last weekend, we took an overnight visit to Yosemite. My wife was right, everywhere I looked there was a waterfall that I had never seen before. Even Horsetail falls, the one that lights up like fire at sunset in February, was still running. The Merced River was running strongly. We hiked along the Merced River on the trail to the bridge at Vernal Falls.
At the juncture of Illouette Creek and the Merced River, the waters roiled over the cascades making whitewater that looked like a giant head of cauliflower and sounded like thunder. It was amazing.
Yet, as I traveled through Yosemite, another thought struck me. As humans, ephemeral describes things that come and go quickly; in the span of short periods within our lifetime. But, solid rock in places like Yosemite last for time frames impossible for humans to comprehend but do eventually wash away. To the earth is really ephemeral?
My wife, my mother and I decided to visit Daffodil Hill, a beautiful spring attraction in Amador County, CA. After the visit, we decided to wander some of the lesser traveled roads in rural El Dorado and Placer counties; an area where my wife spent a lot of time during her childhood. As we wandered, we crossed a small bridge spanning the North Fork of the Cosumnes River. The Cosumnes is a 52 mile long river starting as 3 forks in the Sierra Nevada, eventually merging with other rivers and flowing into the San Francisco Bay by way of the Sacramento/San Juaquin delta. We were somewhere along the North Fork near Somerset, CA. The recent rain and snow, brought on by the El Nino, has given us a brief respite from the years of drought. The river was flowing rapidly through this shallow gorge. The morning sun filtered through the forest, highlighting the bright spring green of life reawakening.
I hope you enjoy these 2 perspectives of this beautiful canyon.
I am not typically a bird photographer. When I do shoot birds, I try to take them in the context of their environment, trying to answer the questions: this is who I am and this is how I survive. Living in the Sacramento, CA area affords me the opportunity to shoot migrating winter birds but, I find I really like to go back to the usual suspects – herons, egrets, Canada geese and mallards, hawks. Learning about them, observing their behavior gives me a lot of pleasure.
The last week or so, I’ve had the added pleasure of trying out my new Fujinon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 lens and 1.4X Tele-converter. Its a great lens but its been more than a year since I shot with a long lens so, I made a few depth of field mistakes. Oh well, I guess I just need to go out and shoot more.
Anyway, here are a few images I shot. I hope you enjoy them.
Rainbow Bridge, American River Parkway, Folsom, CA, JUN 2015 (Click to See Image Enlarged)
I regularly walk along various stretches of the American River Parkway trail system. It is a great place to get exercise and enjoy the beauty of an urban forest and riparian habitat. I rarely have my camera because, if I did, I’d never get exercise. But, I always have my phone.
On several of my blogs, I remind readers that it is the composition and lighting that make the image and not the camera. Especially with today’s smartphone cameras and their incredible software. But, I have a problem using my phone. I can’t hold it steady enough to lock in the composition and get the focus right. So, I invested in a walking stick/monopod/tripod by Manfroto and a bracket to hold my phone. Now, I can overcome my shakiness. I also carry a microfiber cloth to clean the lens – it can get grimy being carried around in purse, pocket or holster. Grimy lenses impact the clarity of the image.
I have the Samsung Galaxy S6 with its 16MP rear camera. It does a great job. You can use it as a point and shoot by using auto mode or you can put it in pro mode which allows you to manually control functions just like on a DSLR. I find manual selection of the focus point to be the most useful but wish it wasn’t tied to the auto exposure so I could control them separately.
The attached image was shot with my phone last week. I am very pleased with it. Enjoy and make the best of your photography.