Tag Archives: Form

Easy introduction to ‘visual elements’ in photographs

Look into your photograph, past it’s content.

See it’s composition and you are suddenly able to break your picture down into its component parts. Understanding individual visual elements in an image can help you to capture the eye of the viewer. It’s these elements that make the eye work to absorb the content of an image.

What are the ‘Visual Elements’?

We make sense of the world by building a picture of it in our heads. We recognise objects in our environment because our eye/brain system is able to see/analyse the edges, contrasts, light/shadow/dark, colours and perspectives we see on and between them. Our ability to analyse these patterns gives us an understanding of the world we see.

To make a picture photographers look for strong visual elements through the lens. Then we strive to use them for the picture. A great deal of the creative work in photography is to remove content that doesn’t contribute to the point of an image. So we seek a point of view that isolates what we want to show.

Having isolated distractions the next job is to ‘see’ the subject in the ‘best possible light’. This English idiom is not just waffle (especially for photogs). It is really about using the edges, contrasts, light/shadow/dark, colours and perspectives mentioned above. Finding ways to use these effectively is what will draw the eye in our images.

My list of things we physically see is not detailed. It turns out that we can pin-point specific ‘visual elements’ in a photograph. Research in art has isolated these elements. They are…

  • Line (The path of a point, or implied path of a point, through space or over a surface.)
  • Shape (A two dimensional enclosure created by a single line – may be geometric or freestyle.)
  • Form (A three dimensional object which has a ‘mass’ or ‘weight’; a shape with depth; physical width/height/depth.)
  • Space (Positive space: the subject or dominant object in the picture plane; Negative space: the background area. Space can occupy the outside, inside or surrounds in a depicted object.)
  • Texture (The presence of an apparent surface that would have a touch/feel character of its own.)
  • Colour (Reflected light of particular wavelengths in the visible light spectrum.)
  • Value (The brightness/lightness/darkness/colour intensity.)

More after this…

Examples – a slide show!

Some of my definitions above are, perhaps, difficult to understand until you put them in context. Here is a short slide show by Kelly Parker. The examples really show the visual elements well. Click the bottom arrows to move back or forward on the slides.
 

Download a Presentation Transcript of the slide show.

Simple ways to create photographic abstracts

Photographic abstracts - a video to help you see them

• Photographic abstracts •
A video to help you see them.
[ Image taken from the video below]

The key to photographic abstracts is observation

The material for photographic abstracts is in the world all around us. With a little practice it is easy to see them. Your view will unfold with a through looking at the component parts of things.

Abstracts can be almost anything. Most often they are the properties, attributes or component parts of something else. Where we see the whole of something – the abstract is found in the parts. Where we see a car, the abstract is found in the pattern of rust. Where we see a fence, the abstract is found in the texture of the wood. It may be found in the pattern of the fence too. The photographic abstracts shows the essence of something. It’s not always the whole of it. Or, it might be the whole of something, but a part of something else wider, larger, or more inclusive.

photographic abstracts bring out things that are found in patterns, colours, shape form, lines, angles. These and other things contribute to the essence of a thing. The inner beauty of something is often not in seeing the whole, but appreciating its parts. And, it is also about knowing that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Photographic abstracts show that extra view.

The video is about training your eye to see photographic abstracts in the world around you. Once you start looking you will find them quickly and everywhere. While watching the video see if you can write down a few points about what you think you might look for in your photographic abstracts.

A video insight into photographic abstracts


Uploaded by PhotoClassPro  External link - opens new tab/page on Mar 18, 2011

If all that sounds difficult then you need to give your eye some experience. Examine some of the abstracts available online. Here are some links to look at photographic abstracts…

Finding out more about photographic abstracts

Abstracts fascinate photographers. The idea of expressing something without actually showing it in its complete form is really satisfying. Abstracts allow you to express yourself and say something new about your subject that no-one else has ever said. Abstract photography is one of the few ways you can really get a deep insight into your subject yourself, at the same time give a deep insight to your viewer. It gives you a license to express yourself more than almost all other aspects of photography.

If you want to find out more about the subject there are few good books on the market. One of the real insights into this subject is The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography. It is a really interesting book, with historical insights and well positioned photographic insights too.

I recommend this book to help you get a feel for the subject of photographic abstracts. As a photographer you will enjoy the pictures as well as the understanding you will gain by reading it. For me it helped an understanding of the context of photographic abstracts in popular art culture. But it also released me from it. In modern terms abstracts are an open subject. Today photographers have largely escaped the cultural context and are free to use the techniques without the strong cultural constraints of the past. So read the book and get into the ideas. Use it to expand your horizons.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Seven examples of abstract photography

Abstract photography taps into something deep in us.

It reveals elements of a subject rather than the whole subject. Abstracts examine the mystery of a subject though the parts we normally ignore in favour of the whole. It is this that makes an abstract unique.

In Definition: Abstract Photography we examined what makes an abstract. In the article Abstract Photography we examined abstracts in photographic terms and how to take abstract photographs. We looked carefully at the sort of properties or attributes of a subject to consider when taking abstract shots. In this post we are going to see some examples.

How to look at an abstract

The concept of an abstract is about the elemental make-up, the properties and attributes, of a subject. Often when we see something we tend to regard is as a whole. Abstracts explore the components that make the whole. We consider those in their own right rather than as their contribution to the whole. To appreciate an abstract try not to second-guess its part in the whole. Appreciate it for what it is – a thing which has its own properties, attributes and aesthetics.

Seven examples of abstracts

 

Light-Shadow

Light-Shadow By ~LuceAnima

On Deviant Art

 

Golden Fins By Richard Homer

Golden Fins By Richard Homer


 

Abstract Photography

Abstract Photography
By d o l f i
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelehen/5285763767/


 
 Abstract  No shape change.

Abstract – No shape change. By Tanakawho


 
Abstract-blue-sono2531a

Abstract-blue-sono2531a – By Ara_gon
On Flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/ara_gon/4035403/


 
Abstract in black, blue and white

Abstract in black, blue and white by Xollob58
On Flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/xollob58/3049040298/


 
abstract mini

Abstract mini – By Ary Snyder
On Flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/arysnyder/4178120542/

Further exploration by links…

Abstracts on Flickr…  External link - opens new tab/page
Abstracts on Deviant Art External link - opens new tab/page
Abstracts on 500px External link - opens new tab/page
Abstracts on 365Project… External link - opens new tab/page

Abstract photography – what it is and how to do it

Abstract photography - great pictures and lots of fun!

'Red' - In the style of Rothko
Abstract photography can produce great pictures and be lots of fun!
Concentrate on colour, form, shape and focus for best effect.
Click to view large.

What is Abstract Photography?

Abstract photography concentrates on the two dimensional shape (2d), three dimensional (3d) form, colour, pattern and texture. This is in line with abstracts in other media. Two extra dimensions are found in abstract photography. One is the use of movement through movement-blur. Used more often is the use of focus, especially by controlling the depth of field.

Photo abstracts take the viewer away from knowing or recognizing the subject. Instead they invite the viewer to almost ‘feel’ the textures, forms and other elements of the subject. Often abstract photography makes the object unrecognisable as an object in its own right. Instead it directs attention to the look and feel – the essence of the object.

For a more detailed definition of Abstract Photography check this page in our Glossary…
Abstract Photography – a Definition

How to Shoot Abstracts

Abstracts are about our creativity and not about the object. The simple shot above, with its rich emotional orange, is a glass of water coloured with red dye and slightly backlit with a desk lamp. Many abstracts are created using the simplest things – often they are found around the home.

To help you shoot a few abstracts I have put a list of things you can try below. Try one, or a few at a time. Compare them to some of the examples in the links below the list. Reduce or remove clutter. Keep your shot as simple as possible. Have fun.

  • Look for patterns – especially very close up.
  • Textures – show the ‘feel’ of surfaces and faces of an object.
  • Try unusual or unique angles.
  • Use a macro lens, macro tubes, or get really close.
  • Crop very tight to an interesting/unrecognisable part.
  • Concentrate on multiple colour variations without showing the whole object.
  • Concentrate on tonal variation – minimise colours.
  • Use long, low light exposure to bring out subtle shadow variations.
  • Use soft or hard light variations on close-ups.
  • Emphasis the ‘shape’ (2d) of an object – keep it from being recognised.
  • Exaggerate the ‘form’ (3d) of something – keep it from being recognised.
  • Concentrate on curves and rounded shapes or forms.
  • Concentrate on angular and geometric shapes or forms.

Many of these can be applied to everyday objects or common items. Once you become aware of the shapes, forms, patterns and textures in the things around you a new world opens up. So try to take one of the above and spend a few days looking at everything around you for ways to see that item. Then move on to others. Before long you will be an abstract photographer!

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.