Shooting Abstracts

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Abstracts may lack a clear point of interest. They are often about form, color, or mood. When you shoot abstracts, think about what you want to convey with your image. Here are a few examples to get you thinking.

The Wave in Vermillion Cliff
This shot is titled Distortions. This image uses reflections to showcase patterns and color in sandstone formations in the Coyote Buttes region of Arizona. Jay placed his camera very close to the surface of the water and zoomed in. The goal was to fill the frame with pattern and color.

Broken Heart - Varina Patel

Here’s a shot called “Broken Heart.” Varina chose a recognizable shape as a point of interest and filled the frame with the patterns in cracked mud. Notice that the heart shape is the only closed shape in the photograph. This helps to define it as the point of interest.

Sometimes a recognizable locations or object can be imbued with an abstract feel with the help of in-camera techniques, special filters or lenses, or processing. Jay took this shot of Old Faithful with a Lens Baby. The result is dreamy and blurred.

Through the Rain - Varina Patel

This shot from the Hot Rain Forest in Olympic National Park is an example of a creative in-camera technique. Varina took a shot through a rain-spattered window in order to capture this surreal impressionistic image.

Breaking Apart, Yellowstone National Park, WY



A high shutter speed can freeze motion and allow us to see something that might be invisible to us otherwise. Jay took this shot of an exploding mud bubble in Yellowstone National Park. A 1/2500 second shutter speed shows off the incredible patterns that appear as the bubble bursts.

Capturing abstracts might mean you have to think outside the box. Next time you are out shooting, get creative. Try some of these simple techniques to build an unexpected photograph!

About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.