Abstract Photography Subjects

abstract photography
Photo by: Evelyn Berg

Abstract photography deals with the overall feel of the frame and not just highlights the quality of a subject; and it is one genre of photography which has no dearth of subjects. One can find an opportunity for abstract photography in any subject. It doesn’t follow any set of rules; almost anything goes and that opens up a whole new world of photographic opportunities. Only requirement is that it should appeal to the emotional plains of the viewer. The following are some of the tips to get started.

  • Photograph common objects in unusual ways.
  • Photograph strange objects in a straight forward way.
  • Use depth of field creatively.
  • Use white balance creatively, in abstract photography you are not bound to follow any rules and are free to tweak your white balance settings to create interesting tones and colors.
  • Play with color saturation.
  • Use lighting to create various effects.

abstract photography
Photo by: Simon & his camera

The key point to remember is to bring out the essence of whatever subject you choose to photograph.
Here are some subject suggestions for abstract photography

1. Flowers

abstract photography techniques
Photo by: Fabio Gismondi

Flowers make excellent subjects for abstract photography; their core strengths are colors and curves. There are two different ways to photograph a flower abstract, one method is to add a center of interest and compose in such a way that all the lines lead the viewers۪ attention towards the center of interest.
Another method is photographing a flower without any particular center of interest in this case the curves of the flowers do not lead the viewers۪ eye towards anything particular but they keep the viewer۪s attention by guiding them along the curves. Flowers are often shot using a combination of selective focus and shallow depth of field to focus the viewers۪ attention on the main part of the frame and blur out any distractions.

2. Architecture / Buildings

abstract photography subjects
Photo by: Rohit Mattoo

Buildings are ideal subject for abstract photography as they have it all. Form, color, Texture, Pattern, Shape etc are all present in architecture and so they provide plenty of opportunities for abstract photography.  Among all these elements perhaps the most noticeable feature is the form which has many sub-forms within the main frame. 

abstract photography ideas
Photo by: Svenwerk

To create abstracts from these are easy, capture only a part of a form and you have an abstract. Next to form is lines, buildings have plenty of lines running all over, staircases, hallways, edges of buildings etc are a few examples. Shoot them from interesting angles to create great abstract images. Now comes other features like Texture, Pattern and color, make use of proper lighting to capture texture, find repeating patters which make great abstracts and also look for bold contrasting colors.

3. Sand Dunes

abstract photography
Photo by: Edgar Barany

Sand dunes are popular subject for abstract photography. They are either shot wide or close up.  With sand dunes you are trying to emphasize form; so proper lighting with the right kind of shadow is essential to make great abstract photographs of sand dunes. Normally in both wide angle and close-up shots side lighting is preferred so as to reveal texture and form; and that is the reason why early morning or late evenings are the best times to shoot them.

4. Rock Formations

abstract photography tips
Photo by: Gabri micha

Rocks have a natural abstract feel to them, may be due to the amazing curves and colors they possess. Find interesting curves or areas with strong color and you have a perfect abstract subject at hand.
On many occasions you will find that wide angle shots of rock formations does not make great abstract photographs, so try moving in close and photographing small areas using a macro lens. Photographing them during the golden hours is a great way to enhance colors and texture.

5. CD۪s and DVD۪s

abstract photography tutorial
Photo by: NguyenDai

When light is shined on the recording sides of CD۪s and DVD۪s they create a spectrum of colors which is ideal for abstract photography. The colors produced are bold and saturated and are affected by the angle of the light source with respect to the DVD and the camera. One could either capture the interesting color patterns as pure abstracts or use it as a vibrant background to photograph other subjects like water-drops.

6. Water Drops

abstract digital photography
Photo by: Evan Leeson

Water drops are wonderful subjects for abstract photography, however you۪ll need a macro lens to get close to it. Try shooting on a cloudy day to take advantage of the soft, diffused lighting. Elements in the background for example a flower could also be refracted in the water drops making it all the more interesting.
However watch out for reflections sometimes it۪s the photographer and his camera that is reflected on the drop (which does not make for good images) if you are faced with such a problem change the shooting angle. Using wide open apertures is also common when shooting water drops to render rest of the scene out of focus.

Other Potential Subjects

abstract photography how to
Photo by: BG

The best thing about abstract photography is that anything and everything can be your subject, just have a look around your home, in your backyard or in your garden and you will find plenty of potential subjects, if not take a short walk in your neighborhood, go to the beach, river side whatever is near your place.
One thing to remember when photographing common subjects is to look out for interesting form, color or curves and only photograph part of the subject rather than photographing it as a whole.
Certain common objects that make great subjects for abstract photography:

abstract images
Photo by: Sebastian Jaramillo

Feather, leaves, texture on wood, burning candle, flowing water, surface of water, reed, waves, oil and water, smoke, snow flakes, the list is endless; end should justify the means; or not the subject but the result that is all!

Learn Good Photography Tips

  1. Halloween Photography Tips
  2. A Complete Guide to Photographing Coins Using Different Lighting Setups
  3. How To Photograph Reflections In Water
  4. Silhouette Photography Tips
  5. Tips For Photographing Light Trails