Abstract photography is a wonderful way to express yourself by taking photos that appeal to you– allowing you to create your own style of art. To define abstract photography, remember that it is a non-objective and non-concrete type of photography that does not rely on traditional subjects. Like other forms of abstract art, it can be a very personal, close to your heart kind of project– something that speaks about who you are and the world around you.
9 Tips for Dipping your Toes into the Wonderful World of Abstract Photography:
- Adjust Your Shutter Speed for the Best Possible Image
- Remove Context and Show off Your Subject in a Different Light
- Use Proper Lighting
- Try Macro Abstract Photography
- Use Lines and Curves
- Choose the Right Angle
- Keep Your Shot Simple
- Use Post Processing Techniques and Programs, such as Photoshop and Lightroom
You can discover lots about the world around you by trying abstract photography. Although it is different from portraits or landscape photography, it is the kind of art that will help you see the beauty in ordinary things. Once you start, you will find that it is incredibly enjoyable, as it is a personal art. Eventually, you may even wish to start selling and your abstract photography, and as many abstract photographers have found, it can be quite successful.
1. Adjust your Shutter Speed for the Best Possible Image
One of the very best ways to get a great abstract shot is to start by adjusting your shutter speed. You may have enough experience as a photographer to know how to capture motion in your images– rolling waves, waterfalls, cars, etc. After shooting motion, you’ve probably noticed that you have had a few blurry shots that you felt you were unable to use, right? Well, that’s not such a bad thing, especially when you are looking into creating abstract pictures.
Abstract photography can be made much more interesting when you capture motion to create your image. By adjusting your shutter speed, you are able to create some really great effects on an object that can lead to some absolutely stunning abstract images. A long shutter speed gives your image more time to achieve that special look, which makes it just right for abstract photos.
2. Remove Context and Show Off Your Subject in a Different Light
Choose a simple subject for your shot when you are just beginning. This can be something such as a keyhole on a door, or the spokes on a bicycle. By doing this, you are using a simple, everyday object as the focus of your abstract photography, and allowing the viewer to see it in a whole new light.
Many famous abstract photographers, such as Aaron Siskind, have taken ordinary, everyday objects and created masterpieces with them simply by changing the way you look at them. Edward Weston was able to take food items and create simple scenes that you would view as a whole different image entirely, and be shocked to learn it was a vegetable. By removing an item’s context and seeing it in a different light, your abstract photography can offer a unique viewpoint to others.
3. Use Proper Lighting
You would be surprised how much the proper lighting can really do to visually enhance a photo, even an abstract photograph. The right lighting can mean the difference between overly dark shots and overexposed bright shots. Finding that perfect light balance is absolutely essential. The proper lighting can really help colors pop and the scene come alive.
If you are taking nature or landscape abstract photographs, you might want to wait for a nice, sunny day. You can create some truly stunning looks with natural sunlight. If you want it to look more subdued, try an overcast or rainy day– these are also great for taking pictures of water droplets or puddles.
If you are taking macro abstract photography or if you want to try your hand at taking abstract photography indoors, make sure your area is set up with the right amount of lighting. Open the curtains to let in natural sunlight, or make sure there is a lot of lighting in the area you will be photographing in. Shadows, flash, or too high of an ISO setting can cause your image to look different in real life as it did in your imagination!
4. Try Macro Abstract Photography
If you are intrigued by the idea of closely zooming in on objects and getting an extreme close-up shot of them, try your hand at macro photography. The focal length of your camera lens and subject can make all the difference in your photography. Macro photography is actually one of the most popular and most loved ways to create abstract photos, and you can really do a lot with this type of photography. It allows you to get an up-close view of patterns and textures of your subject, bringing out the beauty of an object in an unusual way.
Many cameras have a macro setting that you can use to create images, and often you can even use your basic camera lens without requiring a zoom lens. However, if you really want to capture an abstract image using macro photography, it would be worth investing in a special macro lens to use with your camera. A macro lens allows you to really capture all the finer, smaller details of an up-close shot in a way that a traditional lens cannot. You can see the tiniest lines, curves, and textures by using a macro lens.
5. Use Lines and Curves
When looking for something to use in your macro photography, try looking at the lines and the curves of your subject and the area surrounding it. By using lines and, you can compose your shot to create something special. Since our eyes automatically gravitate towards symmetry and patterns, using the lines and the curves of your subject can give you an advantage when you are trying to create something exciting.
6. Choose the Perfect Angle
Choosing the perfect angle is just as important in abstract photography as it is with any other type of photography, such as portraits or landscapes. Looking at an image from the best angle can make you truly understand and feel connected to the subject, whether it is an abstract photograph or not.
When you are looking at a subject that you believe would be perfect for abstract photography, take a good look at it from various angles to determine which viewpoint looks best. If you aren’t sure, shoot several photos, and take into consideration all of the different ways that you can really view the subject. For instance, a photograph of a keyhole in a door makes a great abstract piece, but taking the photo looking at the keyhole from above and taking a photo through the keyhole are two different ways to create your image. Another way to get a different angle is through a wide angle lens, as it allows you to see more of the colors, shapes, and textures that make up the subject matter.
7. Keep Your Shot Simple
Whether you are a beginner or an expert, keeping your shot simple can really change the whole impact of an image. Try to limit your abstract photography to a single subject at times by subtracting other subjects out of the frame, or by simply taking them out of focus. When you have more than one subject, it’s easy to get confused as to which one was supposed to be the main subject, so eliminating that kind of problem from the start is a great way to keep your audience focused on what you have created.
In order to keep your shot simple, take additional subjects out of the equation by removing them from your camera’s frame. For instance, if you want to take an abstract photo of a keyboard’s keys, be sure to remove any other items on the desk that might take away from the main subject – the keyboard. This also leads to cleaner shots with less to have to deal with when you touch the image up with post-processing programs. When you have the perfect composition, snap your shot, and you will be creating beautiful abstract images in no time!
Perhaps the most important item on this list is experimentation, and figuring out what will work for you! Tweak your camera settings to get the photo you want. By changing little things, such as lighting, shutter speed, depth of field, and angles, you can create almost a completely different photo using the same subject. It can be a rewarding experience to figure out what kinds of settings work for the type of abstract photo you are trying to create.
Abstract photographers Wolfgang Tillmans and James Welling are two that believed that experimentation was key, and that taking shots until you found the perfect one was essential. James Welling’s abstract photography is a rather modern abstract style, and with practice, you can also find your own style. Have the confidence to believe that your experimentations will lead to a finished product that you admire.
9. Use Post Processing Techniques and Programs, Such as Photoshop and Lightroom
Photoshop and Lightroom are two programs that can really help when you are working with abstract photography. There are plenty of post-processing edits you can make on your abstract photos, including changing color, lighting, tone, hue, and saturation. This, of course, can really lead to you creating some impressive abstract photographs. Simply changing the color of something such as water ripples, or changing an image from color into black and white, can lead to something even more special than the original image.
There is no right or wrong way to jump into the beautiful and amazing world of abstract photography. All it takes is you, your camera, and a vision! There are countless subjects out there, just waiting to be discovered. Use abstract photography tutorials to help you get started, and follow some of the tips on this list to help you on your way. It really all starts with your desire to create. You can simply follow your inspiration from items around you and make them your subjects, showcasing them in a brand new light.
There are limitless ideas that you can try for your own abstract photography. Abstract photography is a great way to express yourself and create beautiful images out of things that might otherwise seem mundane. All you need to do is pick up your camera and you can change the way you and others see the world!