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The Enigma of Abstract Photography

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What is it that makes a photograph a work of art? Is it something about the subject or about the photographer? One more educated in this field would agree, that more often than not, it is a magic created more by a skilled photographer than an intriguing subject. This holds true more so in case of abstract photographs. It requires an unconventional mind, a keen eye and much skill to produce abstract photographs. Though they are often unconventional, engaging and puzzling themselves, good abstract photographs silently glorify the photographer. There can be something unique about every abstract photograph; not a surprise why impressive abstract photography prints are sold at fairly high prices.

Defining Abstract
Abstract photography is an elusive form of art. This is what makes it challenging as well as an exciting style of photography. It’s unconventional and demands that a photographer experiment with patterns, hues, light and curves to produce images in which the subject may or may not be alienated from its identity has no true meaning and its interpretation is left to the imagination of the viewer. The same photograph can mean different things to different people. Abstract photography teases your imagination and directs your attention to texture and color rather than the entire subject.

Why Abstract Photography?
There are various kinds and styles of photography for shutterbugs to choose from. Then why were photographers driven to experiment with this vague genre of abstract photography? Well, here are a few reasons sure to inspire you, if you are considering applying this style.

All good abstract photographs sure have one thing in common – they are striking and impactful. Hoping for such results that are impressive and unique, is motivation enough for an artist. Secondly, you don’t need to plan a special trip to try out abstract photography, unlike nature & landscape photography. All you need to find is some creativity within and some inspiration on the outside.

The process of clicking an ‘making’ and abstract photograph is mentally stimulating and urges you to exercise your imagination. Which photographer would mind anything that gets the creative juices flowing! Although very rewarding, getting a hang of abstract photography is a learning process. There are no rules; which means there are no set guidelines. This gives freedom, yet, tests the photographer’s skills in attention to detail, appreciation of colour and finding textures. Abstract photography, thus, is a great way to hone one’s skills as a photographer.

Essentials of Abstract Photography
To get that stunning abstract picture, the photographer must seek beauty in commonplace things; something which field photographers would ignore. He needs to be innovative with his subjects as sending out a specific message is not the purpose of abstract photographs. They are meant to work more on your feelings, and seem like a visual language to evoke some mood. Which is why there are a few essentials one looks out for to create an abstract image, broadly – form, colour, and curves.

Form, or shape of the subject is usually what makes the abstract photograph what it is. A good abstract picture usually has a play of patterns, lines, angles, symmetry, layering, textures, and the like. It defines the abstract and leads the viewer on.

Second to form, is the color which strongly adds to the mood of the photograph. Monotones, and intense colors work great and contrast in colours is a no-fail way to grasp the attention of the onlooker. Tonal variations play the supporting role in the image as the viewer tries to make sense out of the various thoughts that rush in when one looks at an abstract photograph. Each onlooker relates to a photograph differently, and the colours in it have a lot to do with it.

Another element – curves, control the movement of the viewer’s eyes and can be used to lead vision to the probable focus point of the image. Curves also add depth of field and give an almost tangible effect to some pictures.

The Art of Abstraction
There could be a whole lot of essential elements (as you read above) in an abstract photograph and yet what truly “abstracts” a subject is deducting some of the details related to it. Less is more! Let me further explain by elaborating a few ways of abstraction.

1. Working with Distance:
We now agree, that in an abstract photograph what we see in the picture is mostly isolated with the actual subject, which keeps the onlooker thinking, “It’s interesting, but what exactly am I looking at?” One way of easily detaching one part of a subject to capture, is to zoom-in and take a clean close-up which fills your frame with some form and colour. As opposed to this, when a subject is photographed from a greater distance much of the details pertaining to it are lost and with the application of processing techniques, can result in an image with a lot of texture.

2. Implying Motion:
When techniques such as panning the camera are applied while clicking a subject i.e. moving it in one direction in a sweeping motion, an illusion of movement is created in the picture. The colours get distorted or blurred and several lines may form interesting patterns. Here again, information about colour and form of the subject is intentionally deducted

3. Playing with Processing
Post-production can be a crucial step in abstraction. With all the processing tools available to choose from, post-production can be fun and challenging at the same time. Addition of false colours and adding highlights to the picture can abstract the subject by misinforming the viewer about it, maintain the necessary enigma.

To conclude…
An enjoyable and stimulating field in photography, abstract photography can produce refreshing artwork. It gives ample of freedom to the photographer, who can bend rules and act on his judgement while taking a click. Give it a try, and with a little bit of persistence you’ll discover a whole new world beyond the world of conventional photography!

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