What Is Abstract Nature Photography?

Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials. An abstract photograph may isolate a fragment of a natural scene in order to remove its inherent context from the viewer, it may be purposely staged to create a seemingly unreal appearance from real objects, or it may involve the use of color, light, shadow, texture, shape and/or form to convey a feeling, sensation or impression. The image may be produced using traditional photographic equipment like a camera, darkroom or computer, or it may be created without using a camera by directly manipulating film, paper or other photographic media, including digital presentations.

DragonSkin | Abstract Photography | Aaron Reed

Of all the possible styles that nature photography offers, abstract imagery is my personal favorite to both create and to view. While many photographers today rely on dramatic light, color or subject to garner attention for their work, this type of knee-jerk reaction is typically short lived. Abstract photography relies instead on composition, on strong shapes and lines, subtle variation of tone, complementary colors and contrasts to create a story from what often times can seem simple or even mundane.

When presented with thought, intention and style, abstract photography can give a static two-dimensional image a sense of movement that is difficult to create with any other form of landscape or nature photography. Truly beautiful abstract photography shows a deep level of creativity on the part of the photographer requiring a strong eye for composition and in visual world of photography, nothing could be more important.

Dancing in the Darkness | Abstract Photography | Aaron Reed

Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art. This departure from accurate representation can be slight, partial, or complete. Abstraction exists along a continuum. Even art that aims for verisimilitude of the highest degree can be said to be abstract, at least theoretically, since perfect representation is likely to be exceedingly elusive. Artwork which takes liberties, altering for instance color and form in ways that are conspicuous, can be said to be partially abstract. Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable. In geometric abstraction, for instance, one is unlikely to find references to naturalistic entities. Figurative art and total abstraction are almost mutually exclusive. But figurative and representational (or realistic) art often contains partial abstraction.

Brushed | Abstract Photography | Aaron Reed

Abstract Nature Photography In Print

When it comes to large format art prints, often times the finished pieces are far larger than the actual scene itself was. The first image on this post, titled DragonSkin, shows a space that was no more than two square feet, however, I have created fine art prints of this image up to nine feet wide. This type of imagery is truly amazing in print, offering beauty, style and a great conversation piece all at the same time.

The Beauty of Jasper | Abstract Photography | Aaron Reed

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed's limited edition photography print, The Beauty of Jasper, from his Eternity Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 25.

The History Of Abstract Photography

Some of the earliest images of what may be called abstract photography appeared within the first decade after the invention of the craft. In 1842 John William Draper created images with a spectroscope, which dispersed light rays into a then previously unrecorded visible pattern. The prints he made had no reference to the reality of the visible world that other photographers then recorded, and they demonstrated photography's unprecedented ability to transform what had previously been invisible into a tangible presence. Draper saw his images as science records rather than art, but their artistic quality is appreciated today for their groundbreaking status and their intrinsic individuality.

During the first decade of the 20th century there was a wave of artistic exploration that hastened the transition in painting and sculpture from Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to Cubism and Futurism. Beginning in 1903 a series of annual art exhibitions in Paris called the Salon d'Automne introduced the public to then radical vision of artists like Cézanne, Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, František Kupka, and Albert Gleizes. Jean Metzinger. A decade later the Armory Show in New York created a scandal by showing completely abstract works by Kandinsky, Braque, Duchamp, Robert Delaunay and others.

Infinite | Abstract Photography | Aaron Reed

Once computers and photography software became widely available, the boundaries of abstract photography were expanded beyond the limits of film and chemistry into almost limitless dimensions. Any boundaries that remained between pure artists and pure photographers were eliminated by individuals who worked exclusively in photography but produced only computer-generated images. Among the most well-known of the early 21st century generation were Gaston Bertin, Penelope Umbrico, Ard Bodewes, Ellen Carey, Nicki Stager, Shirine Gill, Wolfgang Tillmans, Harvey Lloyd, and Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin.


Soft flowing lines reminiscent of flowing water make up this beautiful abstract photograph of a polished slab of Willow Creek Jasper, mined by the Ridley Family in Idaho. Fine Art Limited Edition of 25.

Abstract Art Gallery Show

One of my personal goals is to one day have a gallery showing created entirely of abstract photography. A collection of this type would be unique in a gallery setting and when presented in large print, would be quite stunning to those who had the opportunity to view it. Until that day, I will continue to offer my limited edition nature photography in the form of large format prints for those who appreciate the simple beauty of complex patterns found in nature.

Fire & Ice

Feathery reds, yellows, blues and whites blend to form intricate beauty found in Graveyard Point Plume Agate mined in Eastern Oregon. Fine Art Limited Edition of 25.

The Eighth Wonder

Elevate your home with Aaron Reed's limited edition photography print, The Eighth Wonder, from his Eternity Photography collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 25.

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