Sunday, August 5, 2012

Abstracting the world one frame at a time

The World Out Of Focus
I am a man of various artistic styles. Much like my music, I like various styles of art. My music playlist can go from Metallica to Sia to Johnny Cash to Dr. Dre to The Sex Pistols to The Doors to Bobby McFarin to Marilyn Manson to Eminem to Etta James. I just don't like modern country. My taste in art is just as varied, and oddly enough, I just don't like most modern art.

Light Blooms
One of my favorite forms of art to create with my camera is abstract by finding the patterns with movement and de-focusing.

It isn't an accident when I make this form of art. It is done through intentional motion and focus shifting.

This doesn't work with just any subject or lighting conditions.

It also doesn't work with just any motion of the camera.

This is a skill I have spent years developing through experimentation.

I know that a lot of people joke about a blurry image is simply fine art. But this is not what my pieces are about.

In this post I am going to share some secrets about what my subjects consist of and how I go about shooting them.

Earth and Fire
When looking for a subject it is important to look for a couple of traits; colors that contrast and compliment.

Yellows on darker green, red or blue work well while yellow on orange would simply not provide enough contrast between the colors. The colors should contrast enough that there is definitive clarity between the two colors.

Because yellow and orange are close in color values, the same side of the color wheel, they don't work. Instead, red and yellow or blue and yellow combinations are great examples because they are on opposite or near opposite sides of the wheel. Red and blue could work, but both tend to be darker tones so the contrast might be nullified if you are aren't careful. Flowers and multicolored lights, like Christmas are some of the easiest to work with.

Fanning the Flames
The next thing to look for is light contrast.

Bright sunlight can work well but only if the subject, the primary color, is lit by sunlight and the background is in shadow.

Flat light, like an overcast day, does not work. When abstracting, a flat light source equals a flat image with no contrast.

The image on the left is a shot of some bright yellow flowers in the sun while the background is in shadow and obviously a mix of more yellow flowers and green.

Next is motion.

Depending on the lens you are using, movement ranges may vary, but the movements themselves will remain similar.

Horizontal movements can create a panning effect, while vertical movements can create a sense of rising or falling.

Circular movements create different effects than linear line movements. Experiments with movement will expose more about what works and what doesn't work for a given scene.

A longer shutter speed can capture a more movement, but also captures more light increasing the risk of over exposure. This risk can be compensated with a smaller aperture or lower ISO.

Movements are impacted by focal length as well. A longer focal length, like 200mm, exaggerates movement more than 50mm naturally. Therefore a 200mm lens requires less movement to obtain the the same effect than a 50mm lens. In the same way, but backwards, a 10mm lens would require more movement to obtain the same effect than a 50mm would. Generally big movements create sweeping patterns while small movements create tight patterns.

This should give you the basic tools you need to start abstracting with purpose. As you practice, by using these tools you will learn more about what works and what doesn't. So get out there and start abstracting the world around you.

1 comment:

KoolKat said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I'm going to try this because I love the effect.