Abstract photography is a lot of fun (and usually jaw-droppingly beautiful). But how will you create gorgeous abstract shots of your very own?
In this article, I share lots of practical tips, tricks, plus techniques for amazing abstract photos. I also share plenty of moving examples.
By the time you’re done reading through, you’ll know how to capture wonderful abstracts, whether you use the smartphone, a DSLR, or a large-format film camera.
Let’s get started!
1 . Move your own camera while you shoot
The simplest method for creating abstract photos – and another that’s adored by most abstract shooters – would be to blur everything…
…simply by moving your camera as you take a photo.
Start moving your camera from side to side or down and up, then hit the shutter button – and keep shifting your camera until the image is complete. You’ll find different results depending on the direction of your movement, the length of the shutter speed, and the seem of your subject – but pretty much each image constructed with this technique looks super great.
A number of pieces of advice:
First, do your motion-blur photography (also known as
Second, lower your ISO to its foundation level (generally ISO 100). That way, you get the longest shutter speed possible.
Third, if you can’t get a fast-enough shutter speed out in the open, try out heading into the shade. You might also add a fairly neutral density filter over your lens. Right here, the quality of the filter is not hugely important, as you will be aiming for lots of blur anyway – so please grab a cheap ND filtration system off of Amazon or auction web sites.
Fourth, look for colorful subjects that will be noticeable, even when blurred. Flowers are good for ICM photography, as are simply leaves in the fall, water at sunset, iridescent rocks, and more.
Finally, experiment wildly. Be sure to take various shots while relocating your camera in different instructions. Then start moving your own camera in circles or even random wiggles. Over time, you will get better at predicting the outcome, though intentional camera movement digital photography is consistently a bit of an adventure.
2 . Photograph moving subjects
Action photographers spend all day trying to get cold moving subjects, such as parrots in flight, cars rushing by, and sports gamers in mid-jump.
But what if, instead of wicked cold the subjects, you deliberately let them blur ?
This technique complements the intentional camera movement idea I propagated above. But instead of relocating your camera while the subject matter remains still, you keep your own camera still and let the subject matter move!
As with ICM photography, you’ll have to slow down your shutter rate. I’d recommend starting at 1/30s, though the specifics depends heavily on your subject’s movement (experimentation is key! ).
Colorful subjects work great; I love to photograph fast-moving trains, for instance, using their colorful signs:
Cars are one more nice motion-blur subject, and you may literally spend the whole day standing by the roadside and capturing colorful cars on the move.
By the way, a tripod can be helpful here, especially if you wish to capture a sharp background having a blurry subject (as I did so in the train shot above).
You could also do motion-blur shots while handholding, and the effects can be really cool.
A word of warning: Watch out for whites, yellows, and other ultra-bright colors. They’ll fill your sensor with too much data too fast, and they will cover over any other shades that you may have in your shot. Rather, find subjects that function lots of evenly toned shades, and you’ll get great results.
several. Zoom in
Abstract photography is all about focusing purely on colors and forms, rather than grounding your subject in the wider scene.
And while you can always remove key details by blurring the subject, work out get wonderfully abstract pictures is to simply get in close – so close which the viewer can not tell what you photographed .
Here, a macro lens or a telephoto lens will be a big help. (Though if you don’t have either, don’t worry; simply pick your own closest-focusing lens and have fun).
As you get involved close, try to think of your subject, not in terms of the real-life identity, but in conditions of its geometry and its colours. Aim to use key compositional principles – such as the rule of thirds or proportion – to create a balanced image. Enhance dynamism with diagonals.
Perform what you can to fill the framework with your subject . As soon as you’ve filled the frame, it becomes far more difficult for your viewer to understand what they are looking at – and they’ll start to think about your image as an abstract photo, not a photo “of” something.
Let me show you a good example. What do you see beneath? Just a sea of azure with some lines, right?
Now let me show you the larger context:
Looking at the bigger photo, you can probably tell that I’ve photographed the ocean (albeit with some motion blur – see the method shared in the previous tip! ). It’s only by getting closer that I’ve was able to decontextualize the scene and capture a truly abstract photo.
4. Shoot through items
Yet did you know that you can also create a lovely foreground blur using the exact same method?
When shooting with a wide aperture – and therefore a shallow depth of field – elements close up to the digital camera will be blurred, just the same as though they were positioned far at the rear of the subject. And you can use that will to create a beautiful painterly impact.
Photographers frequently refer to this technique as “ shooting through , ” because to make it work, you must capture through a component toward your subject. Plus it’s very easy to do: Just find the subject you want to capture, then reposition your camera so that an element near the lens intrudes into the frame.
Note that your “shooting-through” item can be anything, however for the most painterly effects, I’d recommend using something translucent or patchy. If you like to capture in nature, you might placement a few leaves or blossoms in front of your lens, after that shoot through toward some other flowers, a beautiful landscape picture, or even a bird.
And if you like to shoot in a studio, you can place a subject, such as food or perhaps a bottle, on a table, in that case shoot through colored glass, tissue paper, and other home items.
The greater you experiment with foreground objects, the more interesting your results will become! But make sure to use your lens at its largest aperture, and ensure that the “shoot-through” item is sufficiently near to the lens. (Nailing the perfect range might take some trial and error. )
five. Try multiple exposures
Multiple exposures is a tried-and-tested abstract photography technique, and it’s also pretty simple to pull off, no matter your camera model.
The concept here is to capture several images, then combine all of them into a final file, though you can do this in 2 different ways: in-camera, using your camera’s multiple-exposure function, or in an modifying program like Adobe Photoshop.
Personally, I actually tend to do this in-camera, when you want more flexibility, working in Photoshop is the better route.
When it comes to really capturing your photos, you will need to take at least two photos for blending. You can use the same subject (e. gary the gadget guy., shoot one image from above and one image from the side), or you can work with two completely different subjects (e. g., an individual and a lake).
I generally take one shot of a subject. Then I’ll shoot two more images of the same subject, but I’ll change the point of focus so my initial subject becomes blurry.
The outcome is always a bit of a surprise; sometimes I get a soft-focus look, and other times the subject remains fairly in focus. (When the latter happens, I’ll usually try to zoom way in to consider the subject more out of circumstance and create an abstract end result. )
If you work in Photoshop, you can always include additional blur when editing. I also recommend playing around along with
6. Have fun with post-processing
You understand how people sometimes complain about photos being overprocessed?
Whilst overprocessing can be a problem – especially when beginners crank up the particular saturation and sharpness for an unbelievable level – in abstract photography, it’s not actually something to worry about. Instead of considering overprocessing, look at abstract editing as a time to cast off your processing restraints and have enjoyable.
For instance, try softening your images to make them more ethereal (by including Gaussian blur or adverse Clarity):
Or apply different colour effects (by adjusting colour temperature sliders, using a color-grading panel, or working with overlays).
Here, We used the white balance equipment in Lightroom to create three different versions of the same shot:
Once you have imported your photos, proceed wild!
Summary photography tips: final terms
Subjective photography is one of the most pleasurable genres of photography…
…so grab your own camera, find some subjects, and do some abstract shooting. Remember the tips and techniques I actually shared, and with a little effort, your own photos will turn out amazing .
Now over to you:
Which of these tips do you intend to use first? What abstract photos do you plan to get? Share your thoughts in the feedback below!