Making an Abstract Photograph

Theme Number Seven is “Making an Abstract Photograph”

I would like to challenge the members of Focus-on-Photo-Fun with this theme, and ask everyone to be sure to add a comment, or two, when they post their Abstract Photographs on Facebook and Instagram. Some of us have had more instruction in photography than others, some have had more experience, others might have an art background, and it’s just possible that we have members who love to make Abstract Photography. I’ll get you started with a couple of my ideas of what makes a photograph an abstract work of art, but I really want to learn from our community of photographers. So please, let us know what you think makes your particular photos that you post for this theme an abstract.

I often think of an abstract work of art as something that appears undefined. In other words, it doesn’t look as recognizable as do my landscape photographs, or a still life, such as, a bowl of fruit that’s nicely lit by a candle or the sunshine coming through the window. Instead, it might just be the light itself and how it forms a shadow on a table. I look at the form of the subject in an abstract photograph more than I do the structure or the entire scene. I look at the various colors and how they interact with each other within the composition, and because of that, I also look more closely at the curves and lines, which often are more defined than other aspects within the frame of an abstract photograph.

The photograph above is an example of an abstract photograph that I created from one of my landscapes taken in an area of the Southwest USA that not many have seen. The small pebbles in the bottom left corner of the composition might give it away, but the eye is instead drawn to the angled and wavy lines that run through the frame – and then to the various colors which add more lines and curves to the form. The vivid orange color, along with the reds, draw the viewer’s eye into the photograph, and holds it there. Intense colors will often elicit feelings, and attract the viewer’s attention through the emotions that arise. An emotional response by the viewer is a hallmark of a strong form found in abstract photography. What feelings do you have when viewing the top photograph on this page? Can you explain why?

One of the newest forms of abstract photography is the intentional blurring of a landscape, or some other object. This can be done by moving the camera up, down, side-to-side, or in a circular motion while keeping the shutter open. Another method used for making abstract photographs is to use the lens to zoom-in or zoom-out while keeping the shutter open. Some experimentation is called for to find the settings that create the effect the photographer wants to see. Since the blur of the image and the illusion of motion combines to make me feel dizzy when I view these type of abstract photographs, I prefer to see some recognizable part of the subject in the ones I make, such as the maple leaves in the photograph above. Here, the dark black lines of the tree trunks also create more depth and dimension in the abstract, attracting the eye of the viewer to look closely for more detail in the overall form.

This theme should be fun to play with a variety of subjects, both indoors and out. Experiment and see what you can come up with when “Making an Abstract Photograph.” Post your photographs to the Focus-on-Foto-Fun page on FB at, and remember to tag your posts with #focusonfotofun and #makinganabstractphotograph. When posting to IG, please tag me @georgiamichalicek. I love seeing your creations!

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