Abstract Photography – the essentials

Abstract Photography – The Essentials of Creating Impressive Abstract Images

Author: Ron Bigelow

Abstract photography can produce very dramatic images. It relies on our more primal sense of form, color, and curves than it does on detail. The problem is that most photographers tend to think in terms of detail when evaluating photographic opportunities. However, it takes a different way of looking at our world to perceive the abstract photography opportunities that surround us.

Abstract Photography Definition

There is no standard, universally accepted definition of abstract photography. Actually, it is not easy to create a clear-cut definition of an abstract concept. However, for the purposes of this article, it is necessary to create a definition in order to put some boundaries around the topic. The definition makes it easier to decide what falls within the realm of abstract photography. For our purposes, abstract photography is defined as any photography that:

* Does not represent the subject in a literal way.

* Communicates primarily through form, color, and curves rather than image detail.

Why Abstract Photography

Before we start creating any images, it is important to understand why we should even consider creating abstract images. That is, why would a photographer focus on capturing abstract images when there are other photographic opportunities out there?

There are a couple of reasons. The first reason is that abstract images can really stand out when done well. This is really all the justification that is needed. However, there is another reason. Opportunities for abstract images can be found just about anywhere. What that means is that a photographer can create abstract images right at home and in the surrounding neighborhood. This saves the time and expense of travel (which is required for many other types of photography).

Understanding the Essentials

There are three essentials to abstract photography: form, color, and curves. It is paramount that an abstract photographer learns to think in these terms.

Form: Form refers to the shape of the objects in an image. Form operates as the frame upon which an abstract image is created. Basically, form creates the core of an image while color and curves add enhancements. Therefore, it is crucial that an abstract image start off with good form. This can be accomplished by selecting objects with pleasing, interesting, or dynamic shapes.

It might seem like it would be nice to have a list of what makes a good form. However, it must be understood that abstract photography is more of an instinctual art form. That is, people react to it emotionally rather than logically. It is necessary to approach form similarly. It is necessary to find objects with forms that create an emotional reaction. When one looks at an object and immediately reacts, “Wow, look at that”, a strong form has probably been found.

Color: Color draws the viewer’s attention. In addition, it stimulates the viewer’s perceptual system. In addition, color serves to hold the viewer’s attention for a while. Once the viewer’s attention does start to wander, the color will, likely, bring the viewer’s attention back.

Using saturated colors is one way to utilize color in abstract images. Another approach is to use contrasting colors. This approach can create some very dramatic images.

Curves: Curves add interest to an abstract image. They do this by controlling the movement of the viewer’s eyes through an image. Curves can do this in a couple of ways. First, curves can be used to lead the viewer’s attention to the center of interest. This strengthens the center of interest and creates a stronger image.

The second way that curves can add interest to an image is a bit more intangible. With this use of curves, the curves do not point in the direction of the center of interest. In fact, they do not point at anything in particular. Instead, the curves simply flow through the image in a graceful or dynamic way. How does this help the image? Even though the curves do not point at any specific object, they still control the viewer’s attention. With this approach, the viewer’s attention will travel back and forth along the curves. Consequently, the viewer’s attention stays on the image.

In Summary

Once you master the use of form, color, and curves, you are on your way to capturing some great abstract images.

Of course, there is a lot more to learn about Abstract Photography.

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