Everywhere is something which could be beautiful. You must only learn to see and to know what and how to take off, to crop from the infinity – abstract, fine art, nature, landscape and portrait photography.~Florin Constantinescu
Quick Tips to Make Something Look More Abstract
1. An effective method is to crop out visual references that will immediately identify the subject.
2. Find something in your subject that shows clean shapes or lines.
3. Look for repeating patterns in your subject that you can focus on because they provide a sense of balance to the shot.
4. Light and shadows is a great tool in creating an abstract shot.
5. Use colors to give more impact.
~Allan Peterson from his article Abstraction in Photography
(Note: the above are short extracts; to read the full article please click on above link)
The Power of the Selective Focus Technique
If you’re searching for an easy but effective abstract photography technique, selective focus is the technique for you. A narrow depth of field is achieved by the selection of a large aperture. The camera is then focused on the center of interest of the image. The rest of the objects in the image will fade into a soft blur.
There are two things which can be done to make your images even more notable when utilizing this technique. First, the color of the background should be different from the center of interest. The second point is that the center of interest can be made even stronger by using curves to point toward the center of interest.
The Use of Light and Shadows
Using the interplay of light and shadows can create drama in an image. Now, some photographers tend to think only in terms of light. This is a mistake — for light is nothing without shadows. Shadows are not just a lack of light. Instead, shadows function to make the light come to life. It is the shadows that shape the light, that draw attention to the light, and that integrate with the light to produce striking photographic opportunities. This is especially true with abstract images.
So, what is the shadows’ role in this technique? The primary role of the shadows is to help to define the forms. In other words, the shadows’ role is to help the forms to stand out. Consequently, it should come as no big surprise that the more interesting the objects in an abstract image, the more likely that the image will be successful. The shadows then function to make the more prominent.
~Ron Bigelow from his article Abstract Photography Tips and Techniques
We’ve learned that abstract images are beyond descriptions and definitions. Subjects may not be obvious and understandable at all. I have read many articles on abstract photography and have experimented on a lot of shots and they all point to these – the use of imagination and seeing beyond the literal. I never intended some of my shots to be abstracts. Who would have thought the above picture of the center of a basketball court would look nice when zoomed in and cropped, or the photo below showing the subtle flow of water in a shallow stream. Many think that abstract images, bereft of messages to convey, are simply easy snaps. For me, they are the hardest of photographic genres simply because you have to be more perceptive of the things around you, and sharply receptive of any stimuli in the environment – a color that stands out, a pattern that is formed, an object in contrast, textures that produce interesting details, a crease here, a crumple there, a crack in the walls, ripples in water, shapes in the foliage – oh the subjects and ideas are endless. But often they are unnoticed, and not any crease, crumple, crack or ripple will do. You still have to compose and frame, all of which must be compelling. It takes an observant eye to find something out of relative nothingness. And the trained photographer can capture something undefined. That is the spark of abstract photography.
Thank you all for the follows, likes and visits last week during our picture series on “Shapes.” Another week and we begin another series. We go “Abstract” photography all week long. I’m reposting an article I did last January 3, 2013 titled Going Abstract: The Rules.
Aw heck, what a title! There are no rules. There are no descriptions. Abstract photography, like its cousin abstract art, defies definition. The content is not even important. You may not even make out what the subject is. And viewers may have that quizzical frown on their faces when looking at abstract work. They may not understand what the picture is all about, but what they can understand and connect with are these: the color, the shape, the form, the lines, the patterns and textures – essentially, these are elements of composition which we have tackled numerous times in previous posts. In abstract photography, forget what you are trying to convey and discard the message. Just make sure the image is visually engaging. Easy does it! Yet, how do we go about in pursuit of abstract photography? Time again to stack up on our learning. Freelance photographer Simon Bray shares some insights in his piece Creatively Approaching Abstract Photography. In his opening paragraph he mentions: “you don’t need any sort of special equipment, just a camera, any camera you like, and your imagination.” The article is divided into the following, with accompanying concise explanations: 1) What is abstract photography? 2) It’s all in the approach 3) Break the rules (again?, emphasis mine) 4) Pattern and Line 5) Form 6) Color 7) Working with architecture 8) Abstract and Macro 9) You’re an artist, and 10) Get out and give it a go! In almost all photography articles I have shared in this blog, the last tip is usually the same but only differs in wording. Ultimately it’s go right in and try it out for yourself. Versatile photographers can shoot any subject, but the great ones made their mark excelling in a particular genre. You may be gifted, but you’ll never know at what you are a genius of – macro, abstract, nature, portrait, street, wildlife, events – if you don’t go and dive right in.
Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead!
In many ways shooting only colour can make you lazy and not pay as much attention to the shot as you could. My love of black and white makes my colour work better too.~Keith Cooper
These photos were taken earlier in the week during a local festival. People were in colorful, native attire. But that’s just it, I get color fatigue after featuring full vibrant pictures the whole week. If you’re new to this blog, I reserve weekends for monochrome, a respite from the magnificence of color and a return to the striking simplicity of black and white. Since these are festival images, expectedly they are filled with people and details rendering them almost a dissonance of forms, a disarray of shapes. Yet in black and white, one still finds order – a harmony of mood, expressions, movement and drama. No wonder black and white is the preferred medium for portraits, photojournalism, street and people photography. It cuts through the clutter and presents purity even with subjects in seeming disorder. It was father of Canadian photojournalism Ted Grant who said:
When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!
All the best to everyone! Keep on clicking!
Have you ever been out and about wandering through villages or fields, cities or towns and you can’t seem to find anything worth photographing … just “One of those days”! You will get them and it can be quite frustrating. You have made the effort to get your gear together, drive to a favourite spot but just can’t get the creative juices flowing!
As an experiment, the next time you are out on a mission, try to see things as they would appear in a black and white photograph. Black and white photography tends to add mood to a photo and by removing all traces of color, the onlooker’s eye is more attracted to your subject.
~See in Black and White Photography from All Things Photography
Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!
Butterflies are shapely and colorful creatures. However, like all other winged critters, they just don’t get to be still that long. But when they do, even for mere seconds, the photographer will snap away. Here are samples from my butterfly collection.
The most active of shapes use diagonal lines – the triangle is an eye-catching building block for your picture. Its three sides also introduce odd numbers into the photographic vocabulary. As well as triangular-shaped subjects, think about the structure of your photograph – are there three elements you could join together with imaginary lines to form a triangle?
Four sided shapes such as squares and rectangles mirror the four sides of the picture frame – there’s no conflict there, so the viewing experience isn’t as absorbing. However, they can be used alongside diagonals and triangles to produce a more exciting image.
~Digital Camera Magazine: Master Composition
Every image needs strong underlying compositional order so that it grabs the eye from a hundred feet away…If it can’t grab the eye from a distance, it will never be an interesting photo, regardless of how many fine details it might have. Details don’t matter if there’s no story behind it.~Ken Rockwell
It is said that there are no hard edges in nature. Shapes made by nature are mainly curves, bends, flows, domes, circles, arches and arcs. Yes there may be thorns, barbs, quills and thistles, but the preponderance are smooth outlines and soft forms. That’s why we are attracted to nature because in it we find visually stimulating, pleasing and shapely elements – leaves, flowers, shells, stones, trees, clouds, mountains – even the source of light and life itself, the sun, is one great ball of fire. Here is another collection of shape-inspired images (some are new while some are from previous postings). All are nature’s creation.
I wrote and posted this on March 4, 2013. I’m reposting it to further enhance our knowledge on “Shapes” (our picture series this week) and how it impacts on our photography.
Organic shapes are also called curvilinear that are made up of curves, angles or both. Their main characteristics are curving appearance and smooth flowing outline. They look natural and are mostly found in leaves, flowers, plants and animals. Organic shapes are out there in the natural world, created by the environment. Being free form, they don’t have uniformity and perfect measurements. Which is the exact opposite of geometric shapes. Although they may also appear in nature, geometric shapes are products of man – rectangles, squares, triangles – which are building blocks of design and construction. With the technological revolution, man can now create structures and buildings mimicking organic shapes. What’s in it for our photography?
Shapes are compositional and design elements that are visually appealing. Going for the soft curves of organic shapes or the hard corners of geometric shapes, and partnering them with the right colors, lines, patterns and light will create captivating images. A photographer once said that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts. Feelings are triggered by what we see and sense. A visual stimulus of delightful shapes properly composed will evoke an equal emotional response of joy, gladness and a sense of well-being.
From more than 600 pictures I have posted in this blog since October 2012, I sifted through and picked a dozen images (actually there’s a lot more) with subjects in various shapes and forms. All are man-made.
This article of mine was posted January 28, 2013 and I’d like to repost it in keeping with our understanding and presentation of “Shapes” which is our picture series for this week.
We use the words “form” and “shape” interchangeably. There is however a distinction. This article What Is the Difference Between Shape and Form In Photography provides a basic explanation that distinguishes between the two, and how they correlate to the concept of “space” and how, when combined, creates the element of photographic composition. We’ve been exposed to shapes early on – triangles, rectangles, squares and those with many sides (hexagon, pentagon, etc.). In a photograph, an object comes across as two-dimensional. In the accompanying photo, we know the shape of the ball, in the same manner that we know the shape of a wheel, a plate, saucer, a complete pizza, a coin as examples. When viewed flat, they are all round or circular in shape. When light falls on the subject, like the ball in the picture, it produces dark areas and shadows, highlighting its length, width and depth, and producing a three-dimensional form with the negative space around it. Learning to use this concept of space in combination with the shape and form of central subjects will help in determining the viability and effectiveness of our composition. We know the shape of a tree. When we photograph that tree with the light of a sunset in the horizon, it will cast long shadows and create a dramatic form. Composition comes to fore when we combine our focal point (the tree, already in its interesting form) with other elements in the space around it, say distant mountains in the background or a verdant field surrounding it. The thinking photographer already envisioned the scene, and it is a matter of arranging these elements in the frame to come up with a compositionally pleasing shot.
…beautiful shapes make beautiful pictures.~Jim Zuckerman
A photographer will notice shapes which is one of the most basic elements of design. Even without color, more so without color, shapes give definition to an image. Shapes abound all around, both in the man-made environment and in the natural world. Sometimes we take them for granted because they are everywhere but a keen photographer will be like a child, cognizant of the world of circles, squares, triangles, rectangles and the many types of polygons, and how they interact and create forms, patterns, silhouettes and outlines, producing images that attract and engage. We go back and see the world through the eyes of a child, engrossed in a world governed by shapes. Have a splendid week ahead my friends!
Outlines, forms, shadows, shapes, lines, light, tones, textures – these are the ingredients of black and white photography. Have fun with your imagery. Play with the elements and composition. Love the light. Bask in contrast. Experiment. Crop to exclude and emphasize. Discover. Assess with your eye. Process with your brain. Capture with your heart. With these, I can offer no other more meaningful tips when it comes to making monochrome images. With tools and knowledge, it all boils down to you – the creator and artist. After all, each picture is an individual mark of its maker.
Thank you everyone for the follows, likes, visits and views during our Church Week. I hope you enjoyed the images and the articles. Join me next week when we embark on another picture series. Wishing you all a restful and refreshing weekend!
Capturing High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos and processing them is one of my photographic enjoyments. Shooting a scene in its normal exposure sometimes doesn’t cut it, especially if your light is on the side or back of your subject. In that case, your subject is dark and becomes just a silhouette. Using your camera’s bracketing feature (to take three different exposure shots) or shooting in RAW format allows you to create HDR images, and post processing them later. I usually go for the former or if ever I capture in RAW I convert the image first to jpeg or tiff (to minimize noise) then process. We will not do an HDR tutorial here, but I will share my viewpoint on why I do HDR on certain subjects and scenes. First let me point you to some great links:
HDR allows you to present an image with all the nuances of light and the subtleties of color.
Hence HDR images are quite colorful (though this isn’t always so) with deep contrasts. When done right, you can produce images that pop right out. I am fond of HDR but only on certain subjects such as landscapes and, you guessed it right, churches. The key phrase here is “when done right.” In HDR we have the tendency to amp it up to get that “ah” and “omph” and likening it to too much salt, it spoils the broth. The standard for HDR is realism. It must look natural, but enough to bring out the details. Note the cracks, exposed bricks and signs of age on the walls of the church pictured above, or the deep yet fading (or I should say peeling) colors of the church below. In a non-HDR image, you will just see a relatively smooth wall with a few jagged lines representing cracks. So much more are exposed – light, details and information using the HDR technique. Here is an excerpt from Rhommel Bernardino in his article What is HDR Photography? (it’s the first link above):
With HDR technology, photographers can compile different photographs taken at variable exposures. Not only that but also this technique allows photographers create images with an excellent light detail, which is not possible in single shot taken by ordinary cameras. By using HDR cameras, photographers can capture excellent still photographs, in overexposed as well as underexposed settings. Though photographers have the freedom of adding several effects to the photographs, it is always recommended to keep the image as realistic as possible.
As photographers we all know the challenges of shooting at night or in low light conditions. We need a tripod, we need to bump up the ISO, we need a “fast” lens (one with large aperture to take in more light). But I won’t delve on a tutorial on night photography, there are lots of sites that provide that. Instead let us focus on capture and composition, still with churches as subjects but taken at night.
The two images are of the Cebu Cathedral, the one above was taken last year while that below was taken several years earlier. The Cebu Cathedral has an expansive facade, so unless you have a wide angle lens you have to move way back to capture its entire front. Capturing it up front however gives you a singular, non-dimensional perspective unlike when taking a picture of it from one side. In the above photo, slanted lines give you an idea of the structure’s dimension – it is large and wide. A technique to show size and dimension is to include people or a person as reference. Note the size of the woman entering the main door. The sheer size and grandeur of the Cebu Cathedral, splendid in golden light, are emphasized. If ever there is a tinge of light remaining in the sky such as the dusk scene below you can still capture silhouette images. I was fortunate that the lamps in the front courtyard were already lighted hence providing me an appropriate foreground.
I have mentioned several times in previous posts that photography is the art of observation. Look before you shoot. You may be afforded just seconds to observe in action situations and moving subjects, so you have to be fast with your eye and finger combination. With churches and other static, immobile subjects you have all the time in the world to assess, plan and observe before you ever press that shutter. In other words, walk around, find angles, change perspective, look for details. I recall a quote from a noted photographer who said that one is likely to be rewarded with a great image if he put some planning into that capture and was deliberate with his shot, rather than leaving everything to chance. Oh, I say amen to that!
The first thing I notice in a church from the outside is the belfry, or the bell tower. Since they are usually the tallest part of a church structure, they have that prominence in the overall architectural design underscoring their functional importance. There are churches with dual belfries while others have singular towers. Here are samples of belfry images from my collection: