The Art of Stripping: Abstract Photography

What is abstract photography? For me, it is a way of making photos that make you stop and ask, “What is that?” before realizing the answer was in front of you all along. Abstract photos achieve this effect by stripping away some details of the context so that a “purer” image emerges, one that draws us to contemplate it form, shape, colors, tones and shadows.

Here’s a selection of abstract photos in natural and man-made settings.

Sphaera. Photo: Warren Keelan
Autumn foliage. Photo: Michael Yamashita.
Fractures and patterns cut across the hydrothermally altered rhyolite walls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Photo: Jennifer Renwick.
A patch of super fresh mud in the desert during twilight. The highlights on the wet ridges grabbed the light, which added much dimension to this unique patch of mud. Proof that you don’t have to travel far away to find sublime beauty.
Reflections. Photo: Alex Noriega.
Rhododendrons in full bloom. Photo: Stephen Wilkes
Deadvlei, Namibia. Photo: Jonathan Irish. This surreal landscape is the white clay pan known as Deadvlei located in Namibia. The trees there died long ago when drought hit the area and sand dunes (the highest in the world at nearly 400m in height) encroached on the pan which blocked water flowing from the river in the area. There are some species of plants adapted to surviving off the morning mist and very rare rainfall. The remaining skeleton of the trees, which are believed to have died at least 600 years ago, are now black because of the intense sun, creating a surreal landscape littered with dead trees that do not decompose because it is so dry.
Sand dunes, Namibia. Photo: Tom Hegen.
Coral Bay. Photo: Sally Wings.
Lough Neagh (lake in northern Scotland). A featureless overcast day gave the perfect conditions for a minimalist scene. Photo: Paul McConville.
Orange stairs. Photo: Alfron No.
Green grid. Photo: Stuart Allen.
Berlin Shadows. Photo: Julian Schulze.
Abstritecture. Photo: Stuart Allen.
The abstract sculptural staircase inside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brasilia complex, brazil. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
Setre Chapel, Kobe, Japan. Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects, 2005

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