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 1206 (Start getting in closer): In normal cases, when you are looking at photos of objects, the photos of the objects are instantly recognizable. However, get closer and close to the objects, either by moving closer to the objects, or by using the zoom lens. At some point, you will start finding a perspective of the object that is no longer recognizable, but will give the feeling that you have seen the object before. From beyond this point, as you get closer, you need to recognize that you can start getting some great abstract photos. What happens when you are at this zoom level, and change the angle of light that comes in and hits the object. What happens when you add something to this composition that alters the image ? Getting an abstract image means that you need to think along these lines.

Tip 1207 (Look for windows and glass doors): There is a normal glass building that everybody has captured from a distance, it being a landmark building. But have you tried going closer to the building, standing at an angle and tried getting a number of window frames or glass doors in a repetitive fashion, getting an image that does not really look like someplace you have been even though it is right in front of you ? If you are able to do that, then it becomes an excellent abstract image. One angle that can help in this by visualizing symmetrical elements in what you are shooting, and seeing whether you can capture these symmetrical elements – whether these be vertically or horizontally.

Tip 1208 (Get people to wonder about what the photo is): Sometimes a level of abstractness can be achieved even in normal every day photos just by making people to think about what is there in the photo that they are seeing. For example, when you take a normal building or some other objects which has a number of details on its surface and which is instantly recognizable, swivel the view-point. Imagine if you were seeing this photo at an angle, and scratching your head wondering about what this photo is of (and it is not odd; humans are conditioned to recognize something if it fits a profile, but if something seems strange, such as an angle change, then the image no longer suddenly seems so recognizable). So do this, take your camera, hold it an acute angle, say around 45 degrees to how your would normally hold it, take a regular everyday image, whether it be a famous building or the tram, or whatever that has some features which bring in the recognition, zoom into different levels and take the photo. And then show these photos to different sets of people and see whether they are left puzzled, thinking that something is familiar, but …

Tip 1209 (Nature presents a wide canvas on which to shoot abstract images): When you are looking for some abstract images, then nature is a great provider of objects. Look at things that are different all around you – there is the deep look at the center point of a flower, there are the twisted turns of the trunk of an old tree, there are the close-ups of the mysterious patterns on leaves, and so on. The amount of abstract photos you can generate from nature, even in the small potted plant in your garden or the tree in front of your house is incredible (as I have pointed out a few times before, you need to think about abstractness when you are looking at subjects for your photos, else you will not be able to see any of these compositions).

Tip 1210 (Look for texture everywhere): You will find abstractness everywhere around you (repeated many times in these tips, but with different examples so that you can really let free and start to think of being more open in your way of thinking), but you just have to recognize these. For example, look at the bed sheet or the quilt, or something similar. Many of those have very interesting patterns – for example, take a look close shot of the bed sheet. If it is a colorful one, you will get some bands of color, along with the raised thread of the cloth in parts of the photo, and with the right angle, it can look spectacular. Here are some examples from Flickr (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4). There can be numerous such examples, but what they also show you is another rule of abstract photos – you may not have liked some of these photos, I did like them. So, don’t expect everyone to like the abstract photos you took. If everybody liked them, then you are a genius and can actually sell these photos :-).

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

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