Abstract,  Instagram

#DCFocused Pic 5: Lines, curves and blurs, oh my

I’m always envious of people who can create beautiful, abstract images from scenes that most of us walk by every day without noticing.  The patterns, textures, shadows and shapes are everywhere. Today’s contributors are people who see the everyday world a little differently.

Follow today’s contributors on Instagram at @ellievanhoutte, @thatpma,  @jdsonder, @tappety and @yesitscess. To be featured in our Pic 5 selection, tag your photos #DCFocused.

1. Composition still matters

At first glance, the image appears to be a pleasing mashup of colors and shapes with no discernible pattern. But there’s actually a lot more going on here. Our subconscious eye is drawn to certain designs that our brains find pleasing even if we don’t immediately know why. The most basic compositional rule in photography is the “rule of thirds,” which when applied to Ellie’s very abstract swirls of oil and rocks reveals that it might not be such a random composition, after all. She has put some of the most interesting elements of the image onto the horizontal and vertical lines that divide the photo into thirds. There’s also an interesting pattern with the rocks on the left of the image that create a “golden spiral” — a composition in which the eye is drawn outward from the center of a nautilus-shell shaped spiral. 

2. It doesn’t matter what it is — it’s what it suggests

I’m pretty sure I could stare at this image all day and have no clue what it is. However, it doesn’t take long for our brains to start cycling through the possibilities. That’s the cool thing about abstract photography — it’s open to many different interpretations.

3. Break the rules

We spend most of our time trying to create tack sharp images; an unsteady hand can throw off the focus and “ruin” the shot. However, when you break the rules, sometimes art happens. In this case, the movement during the exposure creates a very cool effect. But you don’t have to stop there, you can twist a zoom lens during exposure to even further distort the image. There’s literally countless ways to use the camera, either physically or with its settings, to bend reality. Sure, you can manipulate an image in photoshop to create an abstraction but it’s a lot more satisfying when you do it in camera. But you don’t need a fancy DSLR or expensive zoom lens, you can also achieve similar results on your camera phone. There’s even an app for it.

4. It’s nice to reflect

In honor of the rainy days of December. ????☔️????

A photo posted by Steph (@tappety) on

Another common element in abstract photography is the use of reflections, which in this case create a ghostly double exposure effect with Steph’s mirror image and the objects that are actually in and on the water. The ripples add an additional touch of surrealism. Using reflections to alter reality can produce stunning results.

5. Look at the parts, not the whole

DWNTWN View #vscocam #architecture #dcfocused

A photo posted by Cecily C. (@yesitscess) on

When photographing architecture, the first inclination is to try and capture the “entire” building in the frame. Instead, look for the patterns, angles and details. Change your perspective from straight on to straight up. Go back at night when the shadows and light give the building an entirely different look. Check out Sebastian Weiss’ Instagram feed for some cool examples of “out of context” architecture.

Comments Off on #DCFocused Pic 5: Lines, curves and blurs, oh my

Multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler.