It is not unusual, when people see some of my photographs, especially the abstracts, for them to ask “What is that?!” or, a bit more politely, “Where was that taken?” Initially I resisted responding because I wanted them to just get past those questions and enjoy what they were seeing, whatever it was. But I’ve learned—mainly from observing myself in similar situations—that the human mind needs something to grab onto. Once we have that, the human soul, if I can make that dichotomy, can then appreciate what it sees.
This is one of my favorite “What is that?!” photographs, taken on a December Lake Michigan beach near South Haven, Michigan. I surmise ice had formed and pressed up on the sand, only to melt and leave the patterns and some remaining frost on a small area of the beach where I was standing. Or, sometimes when I’m feeling a bit frisky, I just tell people I took it from the seat of a high-flying airplane. Either explanation, spoken with authority, seems to satisfy so they can enjoy the abstraction.
Jokes aside sometimes it is challenging to know what I’m seeing in a photo. NASA has done a fabulous job of publicizing many abstract photos of Earth taken from satellites. A new book, Earth as Art, has many stunning examples and can be downloaded as a PDF or iPad app at no cost. We did, after all, pay for the satellites! Thankfully there are concise explanations about what we are seeing for each image! Enjoy.