Tag Archives: abstract

Edinburgh International Festival: Colour Abstracts

Circus Hub is one of the most colourful attractions at the annual Edinburgh International Festival, which is why it immediately got my attention.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

For this photo, I stood in front of a colourful wall and moved the camera up and down during the 1/4 sec exposure

When I see a colourful subject, I like to explore abstract pictures using camera movement during a long exposure or in camera multiple exposures. It is a taste I acquired by following one of my favourite photographers, Bryan F. Peterson.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

As the ambient light level fell for some time, I was able to use longer shutter speeds, like 1 sec for this photograph. Along with the up and down movement, there was also a little bit of sideways motion to add to the blur.

With this particular wall, I first tried camera movement. The brightness level of the ambient light varied quite a bit while I was taking photographs, which is pretty much par for the course in Scotland. I was able to use shutter speeds between 1/4 sec and 1 sec. I had the most success moving the camera up and down or up and down and a little bit sideways.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this picture, I rotated the camera clockwise by about thirty degrees or so after the first and second exposures.

I next moved to multiple exposures. I had the most success when I rotated the camera between each of the three exposures. It took a bit of experimentation to get something I like but it’s always fun to do.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this photograph, I rotated the camera a bit more. I believe I took one pic horizontal, one at forty-five degrees and one vertical.

Next time you find a colourful bed of flowers or painted wall, why don’t you try some camera movement and multiple exposures. I warn you, the process can be addictive.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

I moved to a different part of the coloured wall, and tried again the horizontal, forty-five degrees and vertical shots.

Breaking The Rules: Colour Abstracts

One of my scientific heroes is Einstein. The main mathematical formulas of special relativity, such as the Lorentz and Poincare transformations, had been worked out by others, but his contribution was perhaps the most important. Einstein clarified what the equations actually meant.

In particular, the mathematics of special relativity implied that the cherished notions of absolute space and time had to be abandoned. Even luminaries like Hendrik Lorentz could no let go of these concepts. But Einstein had no problem discarding the old ideas. He loved to question authority. Einstein once quipped: “As punishment for my contempt for authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.”

Colour abstract obtained by moving the camera over a bed of flowers during a long exposure

Moving the camera sideways over a bed of flowers during a long exposure produced this abstract photograph of colour.

I believe the same applies to art, and photography in particular. Why not try and break some rules? One of the rules is that one must hold the camera steady in order to get tack sharp photographs. I was introduced to the idea of camera movement by Bryan Peterson, a photographer who’s shot advertising campaigns for companies like UPS and American Express.

Ironically, the idea didn’t really resonate with me at first, but it was Bryan’s authority figure status that convinced me to give it a try! And I’ve embraced the idea ever since. If you are like me and like abstract paintings but are pretty useless with paint brushes, this may be something you ought to try too.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera while zooming over a bed of flowers

Rotating the camera while zooming over the same bed of flowers produced this pattern of colours. An exposure time of 1/4s or so is needed to produce this effect (it varies depending on the subject and the focal lengths of your zoom, so a little experimentation is required)

Vision Training: Urban Abstracts

In the previous post, I described the benefits of abstract photography in refining one’s vision as a photographer.

Without a recognisable subject for our eyes to latch on to, do the lines, shapes and colours in the picture combine in some harmonious way? It’s another way to develop one’s mastery of the element of design.

Urban abstract photograph of colour obtained by multiple exposures of a coloured wall on an Edinburgh construction site

This multiple coloured panel wall was around some Edinburgh construction site. By using multiple exposures, moving and rotating the camera after each click of the shutter, I was able to create this urban abstract of colour.

Apart from close-ups, some of the techniques for producing abstract photographs include multiple exposures, moving the camera (panning) or zooming during a long exposure. These techniques not only work on nature subjects, but on urban ones too.

Zooming and rotating the camera during a long exposure, the graffiti on the wall becomes nothing more than an abstract of shapes and colours

Graffiti provides great opportunities for creating abstract photographs, and can be found in every urban area. By zooming while rotating the camera during a long exposure, I obtained the above abstract of urban colour.

Vision Training: Nature Abstracts

Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to really enjoy abstract photography, because it is a challenge in many respects.

Colour abstract of bed of flowers in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, using a long exposure and camera movement

By moving the camera over a bed of flowers in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, I was able to create this abstract picture of colour.

With a subject, you have certain rules to can grab onto. For example, place your subject according to the rule of thirds. Set the focus on your subject with a shallow depth of field to make it “pop” from the background. Or use the power of lines to guide the viewer to the subject of your photograph.

Multiple exposure of bluebell flowers in grass, taken in Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

Superimposing multiple exposures in camera of a few bluebell flowers on Blackford Hill, Edinburgh.

Without a subject, you are forced to really think about how all of the lines, shapes and colours in your composition blend together. This becomes a real challenge when using multiple exposures or long shutter speed and camera movements to create your abstract photographs. I find this to be a wonderful vision training exercise.

Colour abstract of flowers obtained by moving the camera during a long exposure, with a texture  blended into the photograph in Photoshop

This is another colour abstract obtained by moving the camera over a bed of flowers. I wanted to get the red patch of colour to be approximately positioned according to the rule of thirds. A texture was added to the photograph in Photoshop.