Abstract and colourful macro photos can look fantastic and are fun
to do. You don’t need to worry so much about the technical aspect of your
camera: it’s more about expression and visual interest. In this tutorial we’ll
look at some simple ways to get some great abstract shots.
Work With the Existing
Potential abstract photos are everywhere. Sometimes all it takes
is you photographing a shot out of focus, a breeze blowing to move a plant or some fantastic
Finding the Unexpected Under Your Feet
I spotted this heart shape in amongst cracks in peeling paint at the site of an old and now derelict, outdoor swimming pool:
The heart became my focal point. I’ve placed it on the bottom right intersection of our imaginary rule of thirds grid, which brings visual-focus and a feeling of space. The lines spiralling outwards are almost vein-like.
Wonderful Wet Canvas
After it's rained can be a nice time to do some abstract photos. Dappled rain drops and moisture patterns make an interesting background, and sometimes the droplets themselves are a great point of interest on objects. Take this plant pot for example:
Its shape is ordinarily fairly interesting, but nothing special. Add the raindrops and you have a wonderfully textured object and great bokeh where the drops go out of focus. The silver and pink tones here really help add interest too.
Plants and grass in the wind do the work for you when looking for abstract.
This blue coloured grass was blowing around, creating lovely blurred, ghost-like images. I’ve used split toning in Adobe Photoshop here to enhance the existing colours. You can see the cool blue-green of the grass really stands out against the warm red background.
Set Up Your Own Abstract Shot
If you have a small area in your house you can photograph in, then creating your own abstract shots can be really simple.
Bubbles from washing-up liquid or bubble bath are a lovely to experiment with. The results are never the same twice:
Play with the lighting to get a wonderful spectrum of colours and effects.
Glitter is great too, although messy! Shoot wide open and with nothing in focus for some amazing bokeh.
Again, experiment with colours to see what works, although I personally find that two colours is enough when mixing them together otherwise it can look too ‘busy’.
If you are of a ‘more colours the better’ mind, then instead of mixing them, you could try arranging them more purposefully like this:
Spirals of glitter look good too if you have the patience. Just have the vacuum cleaner to hand!
Lights Under Glass
You can create some really ethereal looking pieces with a simple battery powered LED light. I picked up 2 for a £1 in the pound shop and they’re great for this kind of thing. Glass tables will allow you to light your subject from below but if you don’t have one then try using a glass coaster; just prop up the four corners with something and you’ll be able to put the light underneath. I did this with an autumnal leaf:
The LED light from underneath was the only lighting used here and I love how it creates the cool blue shadow which completely contrasts with the warm yellow-brown of the leaf.
Abstract close ups don’t require you to get too technical so you can just have fun creating anything you think will look good. Experiment with lighting, focal length and aperture to get different perspectives on the same shot. Think about colours too and don’t be afraid of pushing up the saturation in post-processing; after all it’s about expression and interpretation, not about being true to life or perfect.