There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality we need to think beyond them.

 – Pablo Picasso

“There is never nothing to shoot.” I don’t know if I heard this somewhere else or if it came from me. Regardless, I say this all the time, and it’s true. In this post I will share what happened the other morning when I left the house with “abstracts” in mind.


Along those lines, I think it is helpful to clarify what I mean by abstract. There are a variety of definitions that include “expressing a quality apart from an object” and “having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content.” Add to that “abstraction” and “freedom from representational qualities in art,” and I think this covers my thoughts and intentions in the “Abstract Photo Walk.” Close enough.

Here is where the finding of abstracts started.

Ooooh, the colors! Could have stayed right here.


One other word and concept that plays a natural part in how I see and what I photograph is “pareidolia.” I’ve done this forever, but am happy to have a word that defines it. Here you go: “the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous visual stimulus (so that one sees an object, pattern or meaning where in fact there is none). Even if you think you don’t do this or see in this way in your own photography, I would bet that every one of us can remember vacation car rides where we were told by our parents to find things in the clouds. I know that I and my three sisters did. I believe that this and the constant urging by my parents to “go outside and find something to do” along with my love of words and poetry (reading and writing) have helped me “see more.”

Wash of colors from the motion blurs at end of the walk before my battery died and card filled.


So, now, we’re ready to learn of the parameters set for myself in the “Finding Abstracts Anywhere” exercise. Here we go. I brought one camera and one lens (24-120mm) with only one battery and a memory card that told me I had 105 frames allotted for the walk (no other lens, no extra battery and no backup memory card). I didn’t even bring my tripod (shocking). I chose to walk in Uptown Greenville in about a three-block square area with one side trip because of something I noticed a few days earlier.

Before I began shooting the abstracts, I made myself use one frame in each series for the “literal” starting space. Afterwards, between five and six frames were used in the abstraction vein. I felt it was important to see and show the starting points to illustrate the idea of finding potential where there might seem to be none. I had some favorite spots that I already knew about. I’ve walked this walk before. I had high hopes for one spot but was blocked by construction. In other spots I had to work a little harder, think more, take some extra time. In the end, where I started and where I ended turned out to be my favorite spot. (I’ll be back.)

STOP 2 – Just a Wall?

You see him? It’s Winnie the Pooh cloud gazing.


Start time was 8:20am with 378 steps logged on the Fitbit. One lens, one battery, one theme and a loose plan. End time was 9:52am with 2237 steps on the Fitbit. Total of nine stops with 105 frames and 1854 steps in one hour & 32 minutes. Oh, and my only battery died on the last frame. So, even if H had more frames available on my memory card, I was done.

I give these stats to encourage you to try this exercise yourself. Make your own rules. I wasn’t racing around or in a frenzy to find things to shoot. It was a coolish morning, and I got a nice, leisurely walk out of this time spent. I would have preferred a cloudy, bright overcast morning, but we all know that “you get what you get.” Be open and thankful for all your “topside” moments.

STOP 3 – Between the buildings and a parking garage.

More colors and curves and textures.


Below is what those 105 frames on the walk looked like. Even though small here, you should be able to see clearly what I loved working the most. That painted electrical box is killer, and I will definitely revisit sometime. You may also note a pattern – I did. There are lots of lines, curves, colors and patterns. Had I brought my macro lens or a longer telephoto, there would have been other and different images to see and capture. On that note, I did change the image area in my camera a few times from FX to DX crop to gain some reach. The images shared here are not cropped. The images ARE processed FOR MY VISION.

While small images, you can see some of what I saw at each stop.

Each stop offered something new to capture.