By changing the way you look at the world, and the perspective you view through your camera lens, you can find something unique to convey with an abstract image. Instead of capturing your still-life photo from a traditional perspective, try a few different angles and see what it looks like from below or above. Train your eye to look beyond what’s right in front of you.
Another great abstract photography idea is to explore zooming in on a recognizable subject matter. Artists like Aaron Siskind, for example, play with scale to examine and add emphasis to the details of an object. “A lot of people use macro lenses to do this type of photography because it simplifies the subject,” explains Tryforos. Using a macro lens can help you explore those details. Consider taking a macro photograph of sand on a beach. When you remove the sand from the context of the beach, and instead focus on the shadows, texture, and lighting of those individual grains, you’ve created an abstract image.
Aerial shots and intentionally moving the camera or obscuring the scale of a photo can transform recognizable landscapes into intriguing abstract images. For example, if you pan your camera quickly past a forest as you take a photo, the colors will blur, and the outlines of each branch will melt away. By approaching common landscapes from a new perspective, you can transform them into the abstract.
Nature photography that captures new perspectives of the ocean, sky, or forest is a great way to experiment with texture. Aerial photography of the ocean can make the colors and shapes of the waves blend together into fascinating patterns. The geometric shapes of an industrial building may look like a patterned textile if you shoot it from the right angle. Whatever you choose to capture, taking a subject out of context and focusing on its textures and tones can help you create amazing abstract work.
Traditional photos are taken with a fast shutter speed and capture a single moment, frozen in time. When you add motion to the image, it creates some abstraction, and with a slower shutter speed, you can create long exposure photos. When you leave the shutter of your camera open for longer, you can capture the motion blur of a car traveling down a street. By keeping the camera still, you can record the car’s motion in your shot and keep everything else static. The car will look like a streak of color across the image, while the rest remains recognizable. Then consider exploring the motion blur of continuously moving things, like water or smoke. You can transform ordinary things into ethereal ones by bringing new elements into the image.
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