Natural Abstracts

Natural Abstracts

I love shooting in the Palouse area of Eastern Washington. There is so much variety and creative possibilities.  However, there is one thing that I really look forward to shooting and when i see something, I get excited, maybe giddy, with the possibilities…..that is the plethora of natural abstracts in the wheat fields.

I use abstract in a loose way here, it’s not a true abstract by definition.  However to most people the subject is not easily identifiable and they may not immediately know what they are looking at, so from that perspective I can call it an abstract.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about

Wheat Field Abstract
Fujifilm X-T3 & 100-400mm lens

This is a shot of a wheat field and the rolling hills overlapping against a cloudy sky.  Ok yea, so big deal you might say.  Why would you get so excited?   Yup, I can understand why you might say/ask that. It’s a very simple shot, but one that I find intriguing and one that is very strong.  Sometimes the simplest compositions can be the strongest.

And, sometimes the simplest shots can be the most challenging as an artist.  Getting just the right composition, having just the right lighting, framing the comp in such a way to tell a story and/or evoke an emotion…that’s where artistry as a photographer comes in.

If you ask 5 people what the subject of this shot is, what do you think they’d say?  Wheat fields?  The sky?     To me and why I am passionate about this shot and what I think the subject is…… 1) Color and the color blocking in the image and 2) the interplay of light and shadow on the hills 3) the way the hills overlap to create a strong “V” in the image.  My friend Jack Graham teaches that we humans like to see “Vs” in images and we can find them occurring in nature all the time.  There is something grounding about it.

The other component of shooting these kinds of images, especially when the light plays a significant role in the image is the “quality” of the light.  Warm, cool, sidelight, etc…..the quality can bring added dimension and emotion to an image. Garb Storm

In this shot, the sun was setting off to the left of the image and there was a thunderstorm behind the hills.  It’s a bit less of an abstract because you can see the planted rows of garbanzo beans, but the light….oh the light on this night was warm and illuminated the wheat fields in such a way that they almost glowed.

I continually look for artistic challenges and ways to push my creative boundaries and grow as an artist and I’ve found that moving away from easily identifiable subjects in to the more abstract areas are one way that I can grow as an artist.  Creating a strong composition that evokes feelings is what artists strive to do and I’m working to do that in ways that are challenging to both the artist and the viewer.


About me:  I am a full time photography instructor and workshop leader based in the Pacific Northwest.  If you’d like more information about me, see my work or listen to my podcast, please visit

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