Want to astound and intrigue viewers? Go abstract.
Abstract is not often a word we associate with flower photography; yet it can be a rewarding and interesting sub-genre of photography. A simplistic definition of abstract photography is giving the viewer only a part of the whole picture. The focus is not necessarily on the flower, but on the parts. To successfully create beautiful abstract images, stop thinking about the flower; instead look at the curves of the petals and leaves, look at color or even how light reflects off parts of the flower. In fact, abstract pictures don’t have to be in sharp focus; many times a blurred image can result in a beautiful image.
Here are a few things you can do to help you take abstract shots. First, shoot on cloudy, overcast days. The light is diffused and provides a sharpness and clarity that is often missing during bright, sunlit periods because it eliminates harsh shadows and problems with blown out exposure. Experiment with angles and exposure settings in bright light. Even though diffused light is best, you can take abstract photos in bright, direct sunlight as demonstrated in the picture of peach blossoms on the right. In this case, the focus is on the sun and blurring the flower gives an sun flare that made this an interesting abstract photo.
Secondly, you want to give the viewer a unique look; so get close. If you have smart phone camera with a built-in macro capability, use it. Maybe consider investing in a macro lens to get truly close and detailed shots. With traditional cameras use a small f-number such as f/2.5. With a smart phone manually set the focus on the part of the flower you want in sharp focus. Experiment with different angles, avoid shooting from a standing, eye level position. Remember, we are trying to create a different look and feel with abstract photography.
Failing to pay attention to the background ruins more pictures than anything else. In composition, look for simple, uncluttered backgrounds, use depth of field to blur portions of the picture or fill the frame with the flower. Experimenting is important in all aspects of photography, but especially for abstract photography. You can explore shapes, colors and light in a new and captivating way. Capturing beautiful abstract pictures of flowers can be a fun and interesting addition to your photography repertoire.
Grab your cameras and begin surprising and delighting your viewers with abstracts.
If you missed previous articles in the series “Photographing Flowers” they can be found in the blog archives.
Written by Cliff Blackerby, July, 2019.