Photography is representational by nature in that the subject(s) within most images depict the real world and usually are easily recognizable; for example, a photograph of tree generally looks very much like a tree.


Ted Forbes notes that abstract photography within the art world is drawn from skills that are different from other forms of art and, “It is something that we are not used to seeing in every day life…When it is done well, it stands out and it’s really exciting. When it is not done well, it is weird.”


Fundamentally, abstract art is a visual form that does not convey a realistic depiction of the world.  This departure from reality can be partial or complete; therefore, we are often uncertain about the identification of the subject.  Photographs within this genre diverge from a realist depiction of the world through the use of form, color, and lines.


Form is the shape of the elements within the image and is the foundation of an abstract image. When creating abstract photography, ask yourself, “is there an interesting form/shape with this image?”


The variations and contrast of colors within art create interesting images and evoke feelings within the viewer.


Lines within the image directs the viewer’s eye and creates a dynamic image by emphasizing movement.


There are different techniques photographers use to create abstract image: 1) selective focus, 2) light and shadow, 3) lines and textures, 4) blur, 5) zooming, 6) moving the camera or subject, 7) double exposure, and 8) moving in close or standing far away.


I’ve come to understand abstract/non-representational imagery as an absence of the type of discrimination and labeling process that seeks an answer to, “what is that?” to one that invites the viewer to explore, “what feelings does this image evoke?”


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for the exchange of ideas and photographs.  I am inspired by the process of viewing and exchanging ideas with other bloggers and am excited about walking through your galleries of abstract/nonrepresentational photographs.   I hope you find Ted Forbes’ video interesting.

This week my topic of study was shape.  Shape, the basic two-dimensional element within composition, is defined by line, space, color, and contrast of differing light areas. There are three basic shapes – square, triangle, circle.  There are also combinations of basic shapes, organic – leaves, trees, people, flowers – and abstract configuations.

Ted Forbes noted that abstract shapes can often have

…phycological associations with the viewer on various levels of depth. At their most obvious they tend to be object identification. A silhouette of a chair can be identified as a chair because its an object just about everyone can identify. Same with any other subject or shape of familiarity. Shapes that are abstracted either by blur, shadow, distance or scale begin to have a more dramatic effect as they might hit the viewer on a more subconscious level. In other words they might not be the first thing the viewer sees or recognizes on first glance. This can often create interest and a stronger visual impact.

Shapes can be made more dominant by placing them against a plain contrasting background. The greater emphasis of shape is achieved when the shape is silhouetted thus eliminating other qualities of the shape, such as texture and roundness, or the illusion of form.


Shape is the foundation of  form.


Form is the three-dimensional counterpart to shape. Shape is to form as a square is to a cube.  Form is shape with dimension or volume. To change a shape to a form, dimension must be created by the addition of tone or color transitions within the shape. This results is the illusion of three-dimensions in a two-dimensional space. With the proper application of light and tonal range, shape will transform into a three-dimensional quality of form. Lightening can also subdue or even destroy form by causing dark shadows that cause several shapes to merge into one.


To apply this understanding of shapes and form in composition, I set out to complete an assignment outlined by Ted Forbes creating images in a studio type environment with oranges as a subject and using the techniques of: cropping, scale, fragmentation, focus, lightening, metaphor, and implied.

I found that this assignment to create images in a studio type environment to be a challenge as I tend to be more “improvisational” and thus the use of flames and goslings within the last two images (metaphor and implied).

Thank you for visiting.  As I noted before I would love to have you join me in this learning journey and to read your thoughts.  I hope you find this Ted Forbes Youtube video informative: