Adorama Camera
Adorama Learning Center
Special Effects Photography
Driven to Abstraction

Look for colors and patterns

Abstract photography concentrates on colors and patterns rather than recognizable subjects.

There are abstract patterns all around us both on a large scale (e.g. clouds) and a small scale (e.g. patterns on butterfly wings). You can shoot abstracts with any lens, from macro to telephoto, and any camera from a compact digital camera to a sophisticated Digital SLR.

There are really no rules in shooting abstracts. They can be in sharp focus, or blurred. You can pump up the contrast and saturation to maximum if you want bright, vivid colors, or you can shoot in black and white or desaturate a color image if you want to emphasize the pattern over the colors. You can even move the camera during the exposure. Digital cameras are particularly useful for abstract work since you get instant feedback on the LCD monitor.

Here are three examples. The first, top right, is an abstract shot in B&W. It's patterns of aircraft contrails and high clouds against a polarizedsky, shot using a telephoto lens, the second, above, is a close-up shot of the feathers in apeacock's tail. Can you figure out what the shot below is?

Give up? It's a TV screen taken with a long exposure and a moving camera!



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