Posted on: April 26, 2021 Posted by: Stuti Shiva Comments: 3
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Introduction to the Technique

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.

Pablo Picasso

Abstract photography is the introduction to the representation of scene and objects in a manner that divorces them from their context and creates a pure artistic image. Like all true art it’s hard to define, and equally hard to master.

I already made a lot of reference to shape, form and the absence of color in the top black and white photography tips blog. When it comes to abstract images it is even more relevant. Remove colour from an abstract image and you take away other visual clues by which you could possibly identify it. You are left only with shape, tone, pattern and texture.

This Is a boon to an abstract photographer because that is exactly what you are after. We will now explore the possibilities of the nature of black and white photographic abstraction .

What exactly is Abstract Photography?

Well, it depends on who you ask.

The technique of black and white photography are well suited to abstract art. The world seen without colour is already one step removed from everyday perseived reality. Adding techniques such as selective focus, narrow depth of field, extreme contrast; and by paying attention to composition, contrast and lighting; it is possible to create photographs that stand on their own as works of art without the burden of context.

An everyday object and scene, when photographed in a certain way, can take on an unreal appearance, elevating them above the mundane. Simple, everyday objects like a supermarket trolly, the branch of a tree, or a smoke from a cigarette, shot in isolation with a particular lighting or from an unusual angle, can take on a new meaning.

Man Ray photographed a curly lampshade in sunlight, and that’s widely regarded as a prime example of an abstract photograph.

Man Ray abstract image of a lamp~image courtesy Ocula

Over the next few examples, I will show you some black and white images that fall into this broad category and offer a few tips on how they were achieved .

Even a landscape can be abstract if you shoot it in the right way.

black and white photo of a building
Photo by David Bartus on

You don’t need fancy gears to shoot abstract image. The hypnotic geometric pattern, isolating the shape from it’s surrounding and emphasising the abstract nature of their geometric pattern. The Lense was set to its maximum zoom, and the camera mounted on a compact tripod .

Joby JB01507 GorillaPod 3K Kit. Compact Tripod 3K Stand and Ballhead 3K for Compact Mirrorless Cameras or Devices up to 3K (6.6lbs). Black/Charcoal. Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera w/ 42x Optical Zoom – Wi-Fi & NFC Enabled (Red)


You can find abstract images in the most commonplace location; as a matter of fact it is a useful lesson for beginners to be able to shoot at least a couple of good images with out bothering about the location. This shot of a chopping board and a knife was taken by me while chopping celery. The pattern made by the celery caught my attention. The contrasting texture with the geometric pattern makes for an interesting composition. And by zooming in and isolating just a small part of the subject, those qualities are emphasised.

You don’t have to restrict yourself to urban locations to find interesting patterns. The bark of a tree in the picture below makes for a stunning composition. The multiple texture, and the contrast between the patterns of the wood is very pleasing.

bark black and white hardwood oak
Photo by Pixabay on

Nature is a great source of abstract images. A walk in the countryside can provide you with endless inspiration.The riverside shot with it’s moody backdrop, with the reeds thrown into silhouette, creates a simple, but striking image.

silhouette of tree branch on body of water
Photo by Pixabay on

Continuing with the theme of reflection in water, this one is more of a pure abstract image. The reflections in the water, given form and texture by the slight swell. it gives the water almost an oily look while enhancing the abstract pattern of light and dark.

faceless woman in calm ocean water
Photo by Rok Romih on

The purely abstract photography is surprisingly easy to shoot. It’s simply the smoke from the cigarette~ although an incense stick would work just as well~shot against a black background.It’s lit from the side using a off~camera flash gun, shaded so that none of the light falls on the black background. You’ll probably need to take a dozen shot to get one that looks good, trial and error is the key. Once you have got the shot, simply convert into monochrome in photoshop, and if you want to covert the background to white simply use, image>adjustments>invert to turn it from black to white.

scent fume of burning incense stick against black background
Photo by Murtaza Saifee on


The power of Black and white abstract photography cannot be denied. Discover through trial and error the great potential of black and white abstract photography. It takes time to develop a knack for seeing through the clutter of colors. I am still learning and by no means even close to perfection and the list is far from a comprehensive, but hopeful it will bring you a little closer in honing your skills as a black and white abstract photographer.

The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically , the more real.

Lucian Freud

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

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