How My Abstract Photographs Are Made

Abstract Photography - How I Make My Abstract Expressionist Art
Abstract Photography - How I Make My Abstract Expressionist Art

Over the past few years my focus has slowly transitioned from making seascape photographs to making abstract photographs. And today I’d love to share with you how they’re made and I hope-beyond-hope that this little how-to doesn’t cause my work to lose it’s shimmer.

It’s a simple process really, quite underwhelming if you’re the type that likes a step by step tutorial since there really isn’t much to it.

Basically I just move my camera during the exposure.

That’s pretty much it. Class is over and you can all go home.

Just kidding. I know you want more details, but there’s really nothing fancy going on.

The way I make my abstract photographs is not all that different from how I make my seascape photographs, the effect is created entirely in camera, I just use a shorter exposure.

Green Coastal Wall Decor - Seaside Melody
Seaside Melody

I arrive at the location an hour before sunrise or sunset, figure out a loose idea for the composition I’d like to create, adjust my camera so my shutter speed is around 2 seconds, and just start playing with jiggling the camera.

I’ll often start by moving the camera side to side for images with horizontal lines like beaches, or up and down for images with vertical lines like trees. Then it evolves into moving my camera in other patterns like circles, loops, and squiggles. I just let my subject matter and the lighting guide me, checking the back of my camera often since it’s the only way to see the effect I’m creating.

I play with focus – sometimes sharp, sometimes far from sharp, and sometimes in between. I play with exposure length to create more or less motion blur. And I play with composition – constantly changing the way I’m framing the scene, altering the movements I’m making, and switching between horizontal and vertical {though we all know how much I prefer the latter…}.

Then I just shoot until the light gets too bright and shadows too harsh if I’m out in the morning, or if I’m out in the evening I keep photographing until it gets too dark and my exposure is too long to create the perfect balance of focus and blur.

There’s not much too it, just a lot of fun experimentation every time I head out to make a new photograph. Which is exactly why I love it!

I hope this helps, if you still have questions, I’d love to answer them!

And if you’d like to see more of my abstract photograph you can click here.