3 Ways to Master Abstract Photography

Abstract nature and landscape photography is a subgenre in its own right. It is a fascinating approach to nature, where the feeling of the photo is usually more important than the subject.

In my latest video, I share my three approaches to abstract landscape and nature photography. Abstract photography is a fascinating subject, but admittedly not one I have spent a whole lot of time on. This is due to the fact I do not go looking for abstract patterns. If I stumble over an interesting photo, I make sure to capture it, but I do not dedicate time to it. However, that does not mean I do not enjoy abstract photography.

The first way is simply to recognize patterns. Humans are really good at pattern recognition. Squares, circles, triangles, stars, concentric circles, repeating lines, and so forth are all shapes nature is full of. Whether on a micro or macro level, nature is full of patterns. In the video, I explain that we know from psychological studies that different patterns are perceived differently. Squares and rectangles being interpreted with honesty, solidity, stability, mathematical balance, and a sort of robustness. Triangles often come with a feeling of action, tension, or even aggression. On the one hand, they can symbolize strength while on the other, conflict. And, circles are graceful and complete and gives a sense of harmony and protection. There are many patterns beyond these in nature, but by knowing about patterns, you can use it in your photography.

The second way is to find patterns that resemble something else. This to me is a bit like a treasure hunt. It can be frozen glacier rivers looking like flowers, or frost on a window; it can be basalt rocks looking like a dwarf city from a fantasy novel, and it can be the northern lights in a shape of a bird. I show all three examples in the video above along with the third way I approach abstract photography in nature.

Check out the video and let me hear your thoughts. Do you enjoy abstract nature photography?

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5 Comments

romain VERNEDE's picture

Is Photography able to be abstract when the very nature of the subject photographied implied "it has existed" for real?
Roland Barthes, La chambre claire.
I mean clouds can appear to be ink in water or other things hard to define at first sight, but they still are clouds in the sky, they can't be abstract

Danny MacRostie's picture

I would say yes, photography can most definitely be abstract. Abstract art is a misrepresentation of visual reality. Abstract in a non-art since is "existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence" but if you applied this definition to artwork then would any artwork be truly abstract because is physically exists?

romain VERNEDE's picture

Well I focused on "abstract" in relation to photography.
Abstract art does exist, if we think about early XX century's productions, sculpture, painting...
But artists back then didn't tend to represent what they see, but what they feel, think... Photography intrinsically needs what is already existing to exist.
If we take for exemple the artwork from Rod bellow, it's basically brownish colours and a yellowish circle, but we all figure in a split of a second , it's the sun. (we all due respect for your work Rod Kestel)
Maybe it's the most non abstract thing in the world, because the sun is available everywhere "on earth" nevemind the country, or you origins...

Rod Kestel's picture

NIce images, I like abstract. It doesn't get much more abstract than this: the sun through our country on fire (Australia; still).
[edit: aaarrrrg stupid web site not showing this properly]

romain VERNEDE's picture

Is the sun realy abstract?