Drive Me to Abstraction

September 01, 2013  •  8 Comments

Sharing and comments are most welcome!  Enjoy!

Monet on Myakka

As a boy, I was encouraged to express myself through art.  My dad painted (and still does at 92)... often large abstracts.  He taught me to see artistic compositions by isolating details from the everyday world... and to use these as a starting place for a drawings or paintings.  So I drew and painted, first animals, then sea creatures (my childhood -and beyond- passion), then surfers and waves (high school passion).  The light and colors reflected in waves and the sea made it easy to find beautiful abstract patterns and so I moved in that direction, often using photos to freeze the scene.  I learned to be a good observer, to study details, and to notice "art" all around.

Foam Feather

Foam Feather

In college, thanks to Dr. Barry Fell, my beloved marine biology professor and employer, and fellow student and mentor, Joe Germano, I fell in love with photography and darkroom work and soon this became my primary way to express my creative needs.  As a lifelong camper and outdoorsman, I was largely drawn to subjects found in nature.

Head On

Head On

Now, as a conservation and nature photographer for the past decade, I find myself instinctively embracing Dad's teachings as I can't help but see lovely abstract compositions everywhere I go.  At my website, you'll see landscapes, birds, flowers, and animals, but on nearly every outing, I also bring home detail shots, abstractions from nature, "photo art".  I find these images in water and reflections of course... but also in rocks and wood... ice and glass... sand and sky.

So this month, I'm devoting my photo blog to a small sampling of photo art from my portfolios.  All these images are pretty much as I saw them.  Just basic processing.

Friday, September 6th, 2013 (First Friday, 6 - 9 pm), I have a solo show opening at Nomads Art Gallery in Tallahassee featuring framed prints of some of these images.  If you are in town, check them out in person.  The show runs for two months, from August 30th through October 26th.  (Nomads Art Gallery, 318 North Monroe St., phone for hours 850-681-3222)

Stick Light Magic

Stick Light Magic

You can also scroll through a wider assortment of my arty images at these galleries on my website:   -- animal, vegetable, mineral -- three portfolios under DETAIL -- another collection entitiled PHOTO ART

The subject of these photographs will be obvious to some of you, but I'll add a little descriptor to help you make sense of each.


 In Mother Nature's Paintbrush, this gnarly driftwood log on a remote beach in Georgia developed a bright patina of algae, bacteria, and weather stains over the years, with the added adornment of now-dead- barnacles.

Mother Nature's Paintbrush

One day on a small tributary of Holmes Creek in the Florida Panhandle, the breeze-rippled water offered an impressionist's rendition of the fall cypress and maples rising above the river.  Called Reflection on Cypress.

Rippled water also is great to peer into, as seen in this shot of red eel grass on Titi Creek or (below) this submerged lilypad on Boiling Creek, both at Eglin Air Force Base in North Florida. Electric Eel Grass

Titi Eel Grass

Liquid Lily Light

In the travels of my youth and younger adulthood, I often picked up unusual stones and carried them home with me. Sometimes this got pretty crazy when the stones were large and heavy or numerous, especially when it involved flying. Now I leave them lie, and simply carry home a photo and memory.  Here's California sandstone called Facial Contortion... a name perhaps inspired by Expressionist painter, Edvard Munch's The Scream. Weather-sculpted Sandstone Flag Stone is not the flag it appears to be... actually, it is looking into a cracked-open rock, with the setting sun shining precisely down the crack.

Wall Painting is a detail from the sandstone of Providence Canyon in Georgia -- where the erosive forces of nature are creating slowly changing artistic murals and sculptures.

Stony Oyster is a slab of weathered sandstone from the San Juan Islands in Washington...

As is Stone Eye.

Stone Eye

And here is a large detail from an even larger landscape -- a vast area of recent forest being cleared to build the Panama City airport -- as viewed from a small plane.  If you look closely you will get a sense of scale from the identifiable object in the scene. Called Bare Earth Abstract. Bare Earth Abstract

Beach sand is Mother Nature's Etch-a-Sketch, art wiped clean and re-created with each tide or storm. Depending on their weight, size and compositon, the tiny grains respond differently to the brushstrokes of water and wind. I am so often moved by the beauty. Choosing just three photos of beach sand was tough.  Here is Blackwater Sands from a sandbar along the Blackwater River in North Florida. Blackwater Sands

And from the Georgia coast... Silver Waves of Sand

Silver Waves of Sand

Stormy Sands

Here are two images that might be difficult to identify, especially since one is turned 90 degrees from how I photographed it.  They are reflections of trees along the Choctawhatchee River in the waves and swirls of our boat wake.  Line Up

Line Up




Fleur de Lys

Wood barks and grains, whether living or dead, offer countless abstract compositions and rich textures.  Here is Bark Scales from the Canadian Rockies.

And Flow of Wood from Cumberland Island, GA.

Walking the seawalls and bayfront was a joy of mine throughout childhood. Even now, whenever visiting my family in Miami, I walk the bayside of Coconut Grove.  The sailboats, docks, pilings, mangroves, and their reflections always catch my artsy eye. Here's a sample.

Dock on the Bay I


Dock on the Bay II

Crooked Masts

Crooked Masts

Here's another you might have trouble guessing.  Called Inner Space, it is a small detail in a large glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. Inner Space

And two rainbowed pieces.  The first is Rainbow Parhelion, a phenomenon I was lucky enough to encounter in the sky over Dead Lakes in North Florida.  Yes, those are wispy clouds refracting midday sun rays. Rainbow Parheilion

And Under the Rainbow, a combination of reflections (cypress trees) and refractions (of light through a thin layer of cypress oil) in a small sinkhole in the Apalachicola National Forest. Under the Rainbow

Visiting our daughter in Richmond late one fall, we hiked along the James River and discovered amazing ice formations on the  rocks.  This one is called Fractured Clock Works.

And finally...

Reflected in our Florida rivers in springtime, one can find Southern Lights to rival the pizazz of the Arctic Northern Lights. 

Southern Lights

That's all for now.  If this is "your cup of tea" like it is mine, have a look at the links above.  And, hope to see you at Nomads.

For anyone interested in prints from any of my blog posts or website, please contact me at [email protected].  Thanks.

Please share this link with others who might enjoy this collection.  And your comments here at this blog are MOST appreciated!



Elizabeth McCommon(non-registered)
Most seem to be at a loss for words. That includes me. I'm just glad to be able to see your work. Many thanks in a time that needs such reminders of what a person's eye could see, if they'd slow down and allow it to, like Moynahan does.
Goodness, David, there are no words. Simply such magnificence in the hues and examples. So extremely satisfying.
Norine Cardea(non-registered)
Awe struck!
Gabriela Vigo(non-registered)
Such beautiful images David! I so often am stopped in my tracks by the magic of patterns all around me. It's wonderful to see then captured by you.
Wow, David, there are no words. Just such beauty in the colors and patterns. So very pleasing.
No comments posted.

January February March April May June (1) July August September October November December (2)
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December