30 Jul 2011

10 Tips for Abstract Photography

Posted by Moshe Mikanovsky

The following article was written in Hebrew by a good friend of mine from Israel, Hadas Birman. I met Hadas while we were serving at the Israeli Defence Forces, and although we both worked in the computer units, we had our own passions for the arts. Myself in painting, and Hadas’ in photography. Hadas gave me permission to translate the article and share it with the world. You will see also how talented Hadas is! I love these photos.

10 Tips for Abstract Photography
by Hadas Birman

In abstract photography, the photographed object loses its original meaning, by removing its visual context. This style of photography is characterized by presenting the subject of the photo in a non-decipherable manner, a play between shapes, lines and colors.

Abstract photography is quite challenging. Taking something familiar and create something completely different, out of context so that it is hard, sometimes impossible, to recognize. In order to achieve that, we need to look at things differently, from a different vintage point – beyond the obvious, use the imagination.

The result is supposed to challenge the viewer, so that he too will have to think and apply his own imagination to understand what it that he sees is. Anyone can see different things in the image, be playful with their imagination.

In abstract photography, it is important to pay attention to composition (forms, patterns and lines), depth of field, colors and aesthetic.

You can capture an abstract photograph anywhere and from anything almost. From animals (zebra pattern – when capturing only portion of it), vegetation (part of a flower or a leaf), and still life of course. The abstract can be minimalist, or alternatively, rich with details. Extremely colourful or dark and mysterious.

Abstract can be also imagery completely different from what we see in familiar objects, like shapes in clouds, reflections that create figures that are not really there, and more.

Here are 10 tips for mastering abstract photographs:

  1. First and foremost – Think out of the box! Or maybe stop thinking… Free your imagination and let it lead you.
  2. Look around. Try to divide what you see into smaller parts. Many times a look through the camera lens can help you focus on parts of the whole. This will give you an idea of the end result.
  3. Pay attention to the lines and shapes in your frame. Straight lines, geometric shapes, light and shadow – all of these create the interest in the picture.
    Part of a wall of a house. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Part of a wall of a house. Photo: Hadas Birman

  4. Look for a different angle from the one you usually look at things. Try to go lower, or look through things. Try to look from below, looking up. When you look from below on straight lines which are perpendicular to you, you get an interesting and exciting perspective, of many lines bursting out into the viewer vision.

    A look through sits’ arm-rests. Photo: Hada Birman

    A look through sits’ arm-rests. Photo: Hada Birman

    Pipes. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Pipes. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Look from the bottom. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Look from the bottom. Photo: Hadas Birman

  5. Look for interesting textures and repetitive shapes. Since the end result is an abstract photograph, and the meaning of the original object is, well, meaningless, it is permitted and sometime even advisable to change the original direction of the image, to get a better image.

    Windows of a building. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Windows of a building. Photo: Hadas Birman

    A lodge in Lapland. Photo: Hadas Birman

    A lodge in Lapland. Photo: Hadas Birman

  6. Look for colourfulness, but don’t forget the lines and shapes.

    Candy. Photo: Hadas Birman.

    Candy. Photo: Hadas Birman.

    Or a bit more minimalists but with great contrast and mystery. The following photo was taken through a car windshield in a rainy day.

    A green lamp. Photo: Hadas Birman

    A green lamp. Photo: Hadas Birman

  7. Look for imagery that reminds you different objects, something that is not really there – interesting reflections, shapes in the clouds, smoke or fire.

    Reflection. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Reflection. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Smoke. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Smoke. Photo: Hadas Birman

  8. Play with the depth of field. A shallow depth of field hides many details, blurs the background and leaves only hints and a lot of space for imagination.

    Flower. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Flower. Photo: Hadas Birman

    In this example, the focus is on a point in the far background, which blurs the close-by glasses, and distortion of everything that is reflected through them.

    Restaurant. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Restaurant. Photo: Hadas Birman

  9. Play with associations. Turn your image around and see if it reminds you something else…

    Association. Photo: Hadas Birman

    Association. Photo: Hadas Birman

  10. Be lucky. It is never too bad to have some good luck…

Cheers

Moshe

PS Do you have other tips or examples on how to take abstract photographs? Share us with us.

More about photography art:

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One Response to “10 Tips for Abstract Photography”

  1. Moshe, Thanks for the easy to follow ideas on how to achieve abstract shots. My favourite shot is the coloured sweets – great ideas.

     

    Sue

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