October 2013
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5 tips to improve your photography skills – Taking abstract photos (contd) ..

In the previous post, we learned some details about abstract photography and the technique of moving the camera or the zoom lens while the shutter was open. In this post, we continue further in this world – the world of abstract photos. Abstract is the direct opposite of something that is clearly defined, and it is equally hard to give a clear definition of what an abstract photo is. You all know what a landscape is, what a portrait is, what are those clear and sharply defined photos of flowers, of trains, glass covered building. But just like the mind appreciates the clarity of a clearly defined object in your photos, the mind can at the same time appreciate those images which are the direct opposition of clearly defined. Consider the colors in an oil drop splattered in water, consider the texture of the wood grain in a small section of an old tree trunk, consider patterns that can be found in everyday matters, all of these are abstract photos that can be very beautiful. However, though some of the regular tips of photography don’t work here, there is still a lot that can be learnt about how to take better looking abstract photos (of course, there are a lot more tips besides these).

Tip 1201 (Using Horizontal or vertical panning to wipe out details): In the previous post, I talked about doing horizontal or vertical panning of the camera while the shutter of the camera is open. One advantage of doing this is that this panning ensures that details are removed from the image. So you could have trees in front of you or buildings, but if you do this panning with a prolonged exposure, what you get is an abstract image with clearly recognizable object such as the buildings or the trees not identifiable any more. This may seem odd, but remember that you have to let go of the need to get objects in your photo to be sharp and look for more creativity and look at frames from a different perspective.

Tip 1202 (Read a lot more about how people do their techniques): Abstracts can look great and sometimes you are left feeling totally awesome, wondering as to how the photographer managed to get the shot. I had a colleague who once showed me a shot where there were a number of individual drops of water on a table and there was the same object reflected on each of these drops. After talking to the colleague, I realized that a number of such fascinating photos do not really require special equipment (or rather, equipment that is very expensive or out of the ordinary). What I also realized is that there are a huge number of tutorial available all over the internet that show us how these classic shots are taken, and one can learn a lot from such shots and techniques.

Tip 1203 (Be ready to adjust your exposures, varying shutter speed and aperture): I know a number of people who cannot be bothered to shoot images using a manual mode. They select the automatic mode, let the camera decide the shutter speed and aperture, and for the most part, they are pretty satisfied with the images they get. However, when you step into the world of the abstract photo, then you need to change your mode and your way of thinking (I am being repetitive, but there is no option – you really need to change). So, be prepared to step into the world of the manual mode and start adjusting the shutter speed and the aperture for experimenting with your photos. For example, when there is a source of light in your frame, you would try to adjust the image so that even with that source of light, everything is balanced in terms of exposure. However, if you experiment and modify the exposure, you would get more / less light into the photo, something that you would normally try to avoid, but can end up with a slightly more dreamy look.

Tip 1204 (Need for specific equipment): In some of the earlier posts, I have mentioned that for a number of different types of abstract images, you don’t really need specialized equipment. However, in some cases, when you get into the mode of taking photos from a very close distance (when you are into macro photography), then you do need a good macro lens. There might be similar need of specialized equipment for other needs, for example, when you are trying to take photos of a fast movement, then you need equipment that can capture such quick movement.

Tip 1205 (Use filters): Filters can do a lot of great stuff in terms of generating abstract images. For example, consider the case where you are looking at the city lights, or even the lights coming from a strong source. Using filters can create some wonderful new images, the idea is to keep on experimenting, and when you see something you like, do some incremental adjustments for refinement. There are a number of different filters that create different effects (for example, I once had a lot of fun using a star filter). If you know of friends who have filters, borrow and experiment, and then you can decide which ones to buy.

Photographing the Patterns of Nature Photo Inspiration: Secrets Behind Stunning Images 101 Quick and Easy Ideas Taken from the Master Photographers

Some useful videos from Youtube on shooting abstract photos:

Oil On Water – photo idea!

Abstract Photography

Abstract Art Photography

Abstract Photographer Lester Hayes

Abstract Photography

How to Take Abstract Photography

Give it a go: Abstract Macro Images

“PhotoTips” Episode 84 – Abstract Art Photography

Read more about abstract images in the next part of this series (Shooting abstract images – Part 5)

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