What is abstract photography? Also known as conceptual, experimental or non-objective photography, it’s difficult to sum up with a single definition. Lines, textures, patterns, colours and all types of graphic qualities can be used to create an image that doesn’t aim to illustrate reality but form a unique image from conventional subject matter. You may hardly, if at all, make a connection between an abstract photograph and the object world, but that’s why it can be so mesmerising — anything can become a magnificent piece of art.
Shift your focus away from usual perspectives, observe the world, and concentrate on components with a macro lens. Sounds tricky? Here are some tips for recognising abstract photography opportunities.
YOUR EYES CAN FEEL
You can connect to one’s sense of touch with images of texture. Spend some time looking at surfaces around you, from nearby items like the shell of your laptop, to fine art like oil painting on a canvas. Every surface has a unique texture waiting to be explored. Take a few test shots to see how the convex and concave appear on an image, and more importantly, study which direction the light comes from. The dimensions and topography of a texture can be emphasised and accentuated with certain light. Try from different angles and focal points to seek out the best or most “touchable” abstract photo.
Photographed with D700 and AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED at 105mm, ISO 1250, f/8, 1/400s
Photographed with Nikon D7000 and AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED at 48mm, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/100s
Photographed with Nikon D7000 and AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED at 105mm, ISO 160, f/4.8, 1/100s
Colour is an effective tool for communication. Advancing and receding colours deliver different emotions and messages, while more intense colours elicit stronger emotions and draw attention more forcefully. In abstract photography, the connection between us and the environment can be more deeply investigated without the distraction of conventional subject matter. Using colour as the focal point will enliven the abstract photo and can bring common objects alive for an intriguing image.
PLAY WITH LIGHT
Light plays an important role in creating texture and illuminating the colour of abstract photography, but light and shadow themselves are also great components. Light abstract photography is all about eliminating other context in the photo and solely investigating the quality of light. Diffused light spots and light trails are the most common ways, but with a slow shutter speed and camera movement, there are countless possibilities for creating an alluring light abstract photo.
While texture, colour or light are all rewarding subjects to experiment on, remember these aren’t the only components you can play with. There is literally no limit to the elements that can be used in abstract photography – just your imagination. Start with what’s around you, and you’ll quickly discover the expansive world that awaits. You are only restricted by your creativity and ideas.