Abstract

Shooting abstract pictures can be a great time spent with your Lumix G. You can be outdoors with your camera and try to spot things that you can turn into an abstract composition. Or you can shoot indoors, setting up your abstracts to your own composition specially.

It’s the way you compose your shots that is vitally important. Try to fill the whole frame, getting in really close – this can be a good way of creating an abstract shot. Also, the direction of the light is important – when outdoors, try shooting into the sun.

Experiment with shooting using a wide aperture to minimise the depth of field. Also, use various different film types, e.g. Dynamic Black-and-White as well as Vibrant Colour. Change the White Balance setting on your camera, too. Try Tungsten when shooting in daylight, and vice versa – the Daylight setting when shooting in semi-darkness. This can give you some interesting looks.

For my abstracts, I have used both the GF1 and the G2 Lumix G cameras. The first and third shots were taken while on holiday, using the GF1 with the 20mm f1.7 lens. Aperture priority f8, ISO 100, White Balance set for Daylight; Raw.

The shot below is a late-evening cloudscape that I thought was just amazing. The trails from the cloud make it look like it’s jet propelled!

This shot is reflections in a swimming pool. I rippled the water from the right-hand corner of the pool and composed the camera on a diagonal to the ripples; I really like this graphic image.

The next shot is a self-portrait in shadow. I noticed my own shadow when I was shooting the ripples, so I composed my body position to create an interesting composition.

The forth and seventh shots were taken in the studio, all using the G2 on a tripod with the 45mm f2.8 lens. For shot 4, which is sheets of A4 paper stood on their edges on a tabletop, I’ve got the aperture at f 5.6, shutter speed 1/4 sec, ISO 100, White Balance set to Tungsten; Raw. The sheets are lit from the left by daylight from a window. The flow of the paper with a short depth of field and a blue colour balance really makes a good abstract.

This shot, for all you music nuts, is a nice black-and-white study of my guitar. Aperture f4, 1/30th sec, ISO 100, White Balance setting for Flash, Dynamic Black-and-White film; Raw. I composed the shot across the diagonal again, using a short depth of field. The guitar was laid onto a piece of black velvet and lit directly from above with a soft box light.

For the sixth and seventh shots showing ink drops into water, the settings are aperture f16, 1/125th sec, ISO 100, White Balance set for Flash; Raw. This type of shoot takes a bit more planning. I filled a small tank with water and stuck a piece of tracing paper to the back. Behind this I placed a battery-powered flash-head with a photocell. I used the pop-up flash on the camera to light from the front and fire the flash behind the tank.


You need to predetermine where the ink will drop into the tank, so I dangled a plastic ruler into the water to manually focus the camera and test the exposure before I started dropping the ink. Also, if you position the tank at an angle to the camera then you and the camera/flash won’t reflect in the glass. This shoot needs to be achieved ideally in a fairly dark room, so that only the flash is lighting the subject. As the flash gives a duration of approx 1/500th sec, freezing any movement will be OK.

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Member Comments

  1. bigred posted a comment on 23 November 2010 at 5:04 pm
    Expert User

    Love number four (the paper), excellent idea and composition 🙂

  2. rwoods posted a comment on 7 December 2010 at 8:36 pm

    You didn’t bring your guitar to give us a tune at the dinner, Phil!
    Great experimentation – I,too, like No 4, as well as the ‘rippling’ swimming pool.

  3. nigeltee posted a comment on 1 January 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I liked reflections in a swimming pool but interested in how you got the lines to give that graphic image.
    just got the camera so will try to work it out.

    I have tried to see pictures within a cloud as it changes floating in the wind, and on the 7th shot I could see a turtle swimming without a shell, Looks great I might like to see how it would workout with two or more different coloured inks dropped in. But give me time. 🙂

  4. georgiamaclennan posted a comment on 1 January 2011 at 11:22 pm

    These Pictures are just amazing, i’m so inspired by your photo’s Phil. They are amazing.

  5. gaijinphotographer posted a comment on 3 January 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Great job, great advice. A great resource.

  6. psurbey posted a comment on 18 January 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Everyone thanks for your positive comments
    My favorite shot is The Ripples in the Swimming Pool.

    I created the ripples from one corner of the pool by using a polystyrene float to create small
    waves diagonally across the pool..

    “Keep on shooting”

    Phil Surbey..

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