Here are my favorite abstract photos from each month of 2018. I have employed a number of techniques in these selections, from found patterns in “nature”, to digital manipulation to camera (or object ) motion:
Looking back on 2018, I didn’t do as much abstract photography as I thought I did. At least I didn’t capture as many images during 2018. I did finish up a number of abstract photos that I had taken years ago, and they are among my favorite images. However those images are not included in this 2018 collection, so please look back to my earlier “abstract photography”- tagged blog posts to see them.
I often check my photos archives to see what I was doing and what images I captured on the current date but years ago. Today I went back to 2011 (December 30th) and found some interesting raw photos that with a bit of tweaking became much better.
It is fun to think that I am collaborating with my past-self to create these works. Here are some of the results from today:
I’m going back in my archives to 2011 (November 25) for these never-before-presented camera-motion abstract photos:
In Part 1, I shared 5 abstract photo images, taken in the Edmonton river valley on a beautiful spring day in May of 2013. Here area few more images conveying the color and lines of spring:
Here are some of my recent (September 2018) abstract photographs:
These photos were created by using a shutter speed of around 1.5 seconds and moving the camera during the exposure. I then tweaked the digital images (contrast, color saturation, cropping etc.) using Lightroom.
I hope to use some of these images as inspiration for paintings.
This morning, I was looking through my old photos, curious as to what I might have been looking at, taking photos of, on this day in past years. As it turns out I hadn’t been very active on January Thirteenths, but I did find some from 2012. In fact, I quite liked what I was doing that year – it was a bit of a treasure chest of abstract images!
I took a number of those photos, tweaked and cropped them to come up with these final images (which I like and hope you will too):
In my last post I shared five abstract photos emphasizing the colors of autumn. It turns out that I have more images from that photo shoot (in Edmonton’s river valley) that really appeal to me and I hope that you will like too:
It’s the end of September here in Edmonton and our autumn colors must be near their peak. It has been a while since I’ve dabbled in creating abstract photos but that’s what I did today and here are some of the results:
These photographs were all created using a longish (1.5 to 5 seconds) exposure with deliberate movement of the camera.
It seems like a longtime since I’ve added a post to this blog and since I did any camera-motion abstract photography. Well today (Sunday, September 11, 2016) I did take my camera out, put on a neutral density filter and cranked the shutter speed down to 2 seconds. The day was cool, wet and gloomy but I imagined to find some color and these interesting images:
Color can be hard to find for months during the long Edmonton winter.
However, with a bit of light and a long exposure photograph …
I have often used camera motion during a long exposure to create an abstract photo. I recently took some of these photos one evening in downtown Edmonton and discovered after the fact that I have used a good variety of camera motions for different effects.
Dare I say “completely”, “non-objective”? Non-representational? The images in this post did after all derive from photgraphs of real objects. Nonetheless, what is left are images, interesting just for their form and color – their source is even a mystery to me now.
Here are some recent abstract photos of natural subjects. The edges have been softened and blurred by varying amounts of camera movement during an extended exposure (a couple of seconds).
Another five camera-motion abstracted images, from recent photos:
Today I was back at taking some long-exposure, camera-motion abstract photos. This batch emphasizes color, sometimes subtle, sometimes bold.
It has become quite common (an pretty much acceptable) for artists to paint from photographic references rather than from a model in the studio or from a landscape “en plein air”. But do photographs have any value to an “abstract” painter? Well, for me they certainly do. One of my favorite forms of photography is abstractions, especially those that push to the edge of non-representational-ism. Through the use of camera-motion and long exposures, with a bit of post-processing to enhance colors and contrast (and some cropping), I regularly come of with images that I will use to inspire my paintings. Here are some recent examples (all are photographs) that I can’t help thinking would make dramatic largish paintings on canvases/boards/paper in acrylic, oil or pastel.
My painting are yet to come out of any of these images and I’m not sure how related the final work might appear in comparison to these references but some day I shall tackle them.
More magical long exposure photos from the dark days of December:
See December Magic (part 1) for more similar images.
The Kate Bush song “December Will be Magic Again” comes to my mind every year around this time. While the darkness in the northern hemisphere in December would seem to be a major deterent to photography it does open a door to a magical world.
I am torn between shooting at 1600 ISO and a wide aperture for low light handheld photography or giving in to the darkness and shooting at 100 ISO with an exposure of a couple of seconds, completely abandoning any attempt to stabilize the camera for a “clear” image. In fact when I go to such slow shutter speeds I will deliberately move the camera during the exposure to create magic!
In my previous post I shared 5 abstract photos from a 2014 February 17 photoshoot. Here are another 5 from that particularly creative and productive batch.
As with most of my previous abstract photos, my basic technique is to use a long exposure (made possible by a neutral density filter) and then move the camera in a particular direction during the exposure. Post processing to emphasize color and contrast is usually also required.
Someday, I am looking forward to using some of these photographic images as inspiration, starting points for large paintings.
Here is another [see first set] small sampling of abstract photos I took in September (2012), on Salt Spring Island while there for a painting workshop. Not that you are likely to see any recognizable landmarks in these images but this bunch were taken around Ganges and particularly in Mouat Park [see map].
I used a slow shutter speed (as low as 2 seconds) and deliberately moved the camera during the exposure – in a horizontal or vertical plane or just random shaking to create soft, blended edges.
When I made the trip from Edmonton to Salt Spring Island for the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) 2012 workshop, the primary purpose was the workshop, which was focused on plein air painting. My personal goal for the trip was a bit broader than just painting. For me, this was an opportunity to indulge my other artistic passion – photography. On this trip I carried three cameras with me: a Nikon DSLR with three lenses and accessories (all of the photos in this blog post came out of the Nikon), a Panasonic point-and-shoot camera and my Samsung Galaxy S III . Between these cameras I collected some 2500 images over the 10 days!
Within the realm of photography I had three distinct goals:
1. The first was to capture reference photos of the varied coastal and inland landscapes for use in landscape paintings.
2. My second goal was to take some good, clear quality photos that can stand on their own.
3. The third goal was to capture abstract photo images that might serve as references for abstract paintings.
With these abstract photos I do not look for details or necessarily recognizable elements. I am more interested in capturing colors and patterns and flowing lines. My basic technique for abstracting an image is through motion between the camera and subject, during the exposure. This often requires a slow shutter speed which may necessitate using a neutral density filter. I usually will move the camera (in one or more directions) but on this trip I was also traveling by train so I also made use of the train’s motion relative to the landscape outside. In this blog post I share a few of the abstract images I generated on this trip.
That first image was shot from the train on the way to Vancouver. When I got to Salt Spring Island I spent my first day (the day before the painting workshop began) hiking with my camera gear. I set off for a favorite place from my visit to the island 5 years earlier – the rain forest in the valley of Cusheon Creek . With the heavy, lush tree cover, it was not very bright (except for where the sun broke through the canopy). These conditions were however quite suitable for the long exposure shots that I was taking.
As beautiful and quiet as the Cusheon Creek area was, it was a bit unnerving – just as I entered the area I noticed a sign warning that a cougar had been spotted in the area! Fortunately I did not run into one (but it was always in the back of my mind).
After this day of photography, it was 5 days of painting (with a bit, okay quite a bit, of reference photography) before another free day to wander about with the cameras and then a couple of travel days. I returned to Edmonton from Vancouver via the train, so once again had an opportunity to see what type of abstractions I could capture while in motion.
This is another series of abstracted photographs. As I have shared previously, the technique I use is to employ a neutral density filter that allow me to use shutter speed in the 2 to 4 second range. During this long exposure I will move the camera – normally in a direction parallel to the lines I wan to emphasize. In the previous and next image I would have followed the line of the vertical trunk. Generally I don’t want too great a range of movement and might go back and forth over a short displacement during the exposure.
“Morning Light” was the result of a bit of a happy accident. I neglected to stop down my neutral density filter sufficiently to get a “proper” exposure. The image was over-exposed but still one I could work with in post-processing. I liked the over blown background exposure that resulted.
The yellow at the base of the tree (that you may be able to make out in the previous image was from the lichen that I typically find on the trees around the Edmonton region. Especially in the winter this color seems intense. However, straight out of the camera, these long exposure images typically do not have much color, so I usually will bump up the color saturation significantly to get an image that feels to me like what I was actually seeing/feeling.
Fresh off a brief period of sharp black and white photos, I returned this week to some abstract color images. As I’ve said before, these photos are intended as references for future paintings but so far I have not gotten around to that next step.
As you may be able to see, that last one was an urban landscape, a street scene.
As I have done with previous photos of this style, I used a slow (4-second) shutter speed and moved the camera during the exposure.
Not much to say about this group of photos, other than that they were all taken using long (4 seconds) hand-held exposures with deliberate camera motion. The early morning time of day is responsible the dominating blue cast to these images.