|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
When I think about how the words abstracts and photography connect, my right brain tells me to zoom in, isolate, go macro, get dreamy, and find the picture within the picture. When I create abstracts, I view the surrounding area as if it's a giant Rorschach test. I look past the reality of the subject and think of ways I can portray it that get past the obvious. Whether I start with a large subject and extract a small section or begin with a macro subject and get even closer, the goal is still the same—create an image where a piece of the whole is as powerful, if not more so, than an image of the entire subject.
I love to watch the faces of people as they view a series of abstracts. If a conversation is initiated, inevitably it starts with something to the effect of, "So, what do you think this is?" If there is silence, it's as if I can see the wheels turn inside the minds of the viewers as they think the same spoken words. This is very powerful. It compels them to study the photograph for a longer period of time and think about your work. With a subject that's easily identifiable, a quick viewing is all that's necessary to communicate why an image was made. But with abstract images, it requires a thought process to synthesize what the subject is. The longer a photographer can get someone to view their work, the greater the possibility the photographer's name will be remembered.
Abstract images are timeless. They stand alone. They are based on reality but the final product is a deviation from it. Abstract art may be defined as art that uses color, shape, form and texture in a nonrepresentational way. To create a successful abstract image, the same rules of photography apply to make good pictures of real world subjects. Choose an aperture that gives the depth of field that nets the effect you want. Use color to create drama or as a point of interest. Use the rule of thirds to highlight a focal point in the composition. Make sure the light enhances the subject. The bottom line is even though the goal is to create an image that is a departure from reality, the technical aspects of photography still apply.
A huge advantage of abstract photography is great images can be made at almost any time of the day, in almost any kind of light. If the weather is poor, a great photo can still be created. If the light is poor, step outside your comfort zone and create abstracts. Slow down the shutter and move the camera across a field of color and form. Zoom the lens during a slow exposure to paint converging lines toward a centrally-placed subject. Use selective focus techniques to direct the viewer to a single point of your subject. Make multiple exposures of the same subject and move the camera slightly between each exposure. Combine any of the above. Experiment, play, and make photos of shapes, forms, lines or textures. Get in close and hunt for images while you look through the viewfinder. An amazing photograph may exist half an inch to your right!