Friday, 20 September 2013

Abstract Photography Techniques

abstract photography
Photo by: miuenski miuenski

Plainly speaking photography is capturing of images; simply pointing the camera and clicking does not make a photographer.  As it is with every other cases technology and art has changed the whole concept. This scenario has made classification of the art a necessary thing for detailed understanding. Photography can be broadly classified into two styles namely documentary and fine art.

Abstract photography falls in the fine art category that does not attempt external recognizable reality but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures. The main purpose of which is to evoke an emotional response from the viewer rather than concentrating on a subject.  It gives a feeling that there is some more in it than what meets the eye. It’s all about different ideas and how they are presented to the viewer; remember there is only a thin line between a powerful abstract art and an uninteresting piece of confusion.

abstract photography
Photo by: Sel

It is important to know the basic rules or rather guidelines of abstract photography and play by them; even if you intend to break those guidelines it should be done deliberately in situations which you know will work to your advantage.

Here in this article we will discuss different techniques which when applied correctly will make powerful abstract images.


abstract photography
Photo by: Vittorio Pandolfi

In abstract photography you have free reign to use colors as you please, play with color levels, hues, tones, saturation, and what not. Rules that govern or rather limit you in other genres of photography like portraiture, landscape photography etc are not applicable in case of abstract photography. Here you have complete control, let your imagination run wild, wield your power and use colors to your advantage.

Controlled Depth of Field and Selective Focus

abstract photography ideas
Photo by: Paula Bailey

A large aperture which produces very thin depth of field with selective focus on the center of interest of the image is a very powerful technique to create abstract images. When applied right, only the center of interest of the shot will be in sharp focus with everything else blurred and out of focus; this helps guide the viewers’ attention right to the center of interest and retain it there.

The interestingness of the shot could be further enhanced by using a background that’s of a contrasting color to the color of the center of interest making it stand out from the background. The photographer could compose the shot in such a way so as to use curves in the image to direct the viewers’ attention directly to the center of interest.

Reveal Every Detail or None

abstract photography techniques
Photo by: Emilio Dellepiane

When it comes to details in a shot great abstract photography tents to play along the two extremes; either keep every single detail sharp by using narrow aperture and resulting huge depth of field or do just the opposite, use selective focus and shallow depth of field.

Use Those Lines

abstract photography subjects
Photo by: Stephen Zacharias

Whenever possible include strong lines in your shots, graceful or dynamic lines can be very effective in leading the viewer into and through the image. Here are certain tips to help you make the most of lines in a scene.

abstract photography tips
Photo by: alexcoitus

In order to be effective lines should be the main feature of the subject. Also all lines in an image, whether curved, angled or straight should work in harmony; a bunch of haphazard lines running in different directions won’t work. When using lines as a major compositional element it is best not to have strong saturated colors in the image as they will distract the viewers’ attention from the lines and thus weaken the image.


abstract photography tips
Photo by: Ozyman

Use of texture is very similar to the technique of using lines; in fact texture and lines are often used together. When including texture in your abstract images make sure they are the most important feature in your photograph, also they should work in harmony with any lines in the image, avoid using strong color or contrast with texture. When used right texture connects directly with the viewer’s mind encouraging them to mentally reach out and touch the subject, an urge to feel.


abstract photography technique
Photo by: Evan Leeson

Not having any part of the image in sharp focus or deliberately blurring objects can create interesting abstract photographs. However this technique only works well for certain types of subjects so choose your subject carefully. Scenes which have a romantic or more of a dream like feel are good candidates to try this technique. The blur could be achieved by using special soft focus lenses or by attaching soft focus filters to normal lenses or can be added later during post production using any image editing software like Photoshop.

The Zooming Technique

The technique of using a combination of slow shutter speed and changing focal lengths during exposure called zooming could be used to create powerful abstract images. A detailed tutorial on how to perfect the zooming technique is here

Here are some general tips to get best results out of zooming.

Use a tripod, start zooming from a wider angle ending up in a narrower angle, zooming works best in images that have a strong center of interest and a contrast of color between the center of interest and the background.

Move in Close

abstract photography art
Photo by: miuenski miuenski

Move in close and photograph only parts of your subject rather than photographing it in whole. Crop out all distractions and retain only the most relevant part. Concentrate more on form, color and curves to convey the essence of the subject.

Creating Abstract Art in Post

photoshop abstract art
Photo by: Nancy

Image editing programs like Photoshop could be used to create outstanding abstract images. Photoshop has many built in filters that help you make great abstracts and there are loads that could be easily downloaded from the internet. The key is to experiment with different filters and settings until you get the desired effect.

The image should appeal the viewers’ grey matter, compel him/her to concentrate; study, digest and appreciate the photograph and it should still make him/her feel that he/she has not seen it enough! When your images score at this point; it is done! You have become the king of everything that is abstract!

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