Having been somewhat abstracted of late, I thought some rather more abstract images might be appropriate for this post. All these photos I took in the garden during the past few weeks.

In art and photography abstracts tend to be less associated with the concretely representational.  There are no hard and fast rules or definitive definitions, but abstracts deal more with patterns and forms, relationships between lines, shapes, textures, colours and contrasts, rather than with any realistic depiction.

Butterfly pupa under a leaf

The image above is of a butterfly chrysalis catching a sunbeam while on the shady underside of a leaf. It is not a particularly abstract abstract, and perhaps it also has elements of symbolism – is a chrysalis a butterfly or the idea of a butterfly, an abstract of a butterfly in waiting?

Bark and lichen in close-up

In the most abstract of abstracts the image might bear no discernible relationship to anything recognizable, but also in the spectrum are abstract images that highlight aspects of something in a fresh way perhaps by not depicting the whole or by emphasizing characteristics that might be divorced from the whole.

Closeup of flower petals of Leonotis leonurus

So, as I said, I have been abstracted of late, but in saying that I realise I am not really sure what I mean. According to the dictionary, when I say I have been abstracted, I mean I have been withdrawn in mind and inattentive to my surroundings (Merriam-Webster online dictionary).

Well that is true up to a point. But I have not been so abstracted that I could not make coffee, or a simple supper, or wander round the garden with a camera, even though the images I took tended more towards the … abstract.

Aloe leaves with thorns in close-up

Sometimes when I look at a word or think about it too intensely it oscillates in shape and meaning, a bit like one of those optical illusions. For example, in the image below, is the book open towards you or away from you?

Diagram of the optical illusion: is the book open or closed?

To help me gain definition, I looked up ‘abstract’ (adjective) in the Online Etymology Dictionary. The original usage of the word was as a grammatical term “in reference to certain nouns that do not name concrete things” and it dates from the late 14th century. The word is also used figuratively.

‘Abstract’ derives from the “Latin abstractus, which means ‘drawn away’, the past participle of abstrahere ‘to drag away, detach, pull away, divert’”. To break the word down, ab means ‘off, away from’, and trahere means ‘to draw’ (as in drag or move).

And there’s more. In philosophy, ‘abstract’ has been in use from the mid-15th century to mean “‘withdrawn or separated from material objects or practical matters’ (opposed to concrete)”. And a further meaning, “that of ‘difficult to understand, abstruse’” dates from around 1400. Its usage in the fine arts is far more recent. By 1914, in modern art ‘abstract’ denotes “characterized by lack of representational qualities”.

Leaf frond unfurling.

So literally, to be abstracted means to be drawn away from, with the additional insight from the original usage denoting words drawn away from concrete things.

Droplets of rain on webs in close-up.

Being somewhat abstracted, I could not decide whether to post colour images or only black-and-white images, so resulting from such an irresolute state there are both. And given that the images are more or less abstract, there are no captions.

Undersides of bract fungus growing on a dead tree.

Abstract photograph of a dry seedhead of an agapanthus

Abstract photo of maidenhair fern

Black-and-white abstract image of textured leaf

Stems of reads in close-up

Black-and-white abstract image of part of spiderweb

Pattern of bird in flight against blue sky

Posted by Carol

Lily round crop blue small