Abstract Nature Photography Guide

abstract photo of lake with ripples

Combining abstract and nature photography can create stunning images. The key to doing this is using the right gear and techniques. If you want to start taking abstract nature photography then read on for the complete guide.

What is an interesting and beautiful abstract nature photo?

An abstract nature scene is one that includes some kind of visual aesthetic. The ‘abstract’ part means that you are creating a scene with no obvious man-made objects or landscape features. Abstract photographs tend to include unique elements such as patterns, color lines, shapes, lights etc.

Abstract photography has its roots in modern art and has a long history. It became popular in the mid-20th century because many artists began to feel that photography was beginning to lose some of its creative power and beauty. Due to the advent of digital technology abstract nature photography is easier than ever before.

If you are thinking about starting a new style of photography then abstract nature could be for you. Abstract photography can result in some really stunning images from any scene, whether it’s an interesting landscape, architecture or wildlife. Many compositional elements such as lines and shapes can create an abstract image.

What Gear Do You Need

A good nature camera is a must. It will allow you to capture different angles, exposure and focus. If you do not have one yet check the nature photography camera guide for more info and my recommendations.

You will also need the right lens to take abstract nature photographs. A great quality lens gives you a depth of field between f/11 and f/16, which is the perfect range for taking abstract photographs. You will also need a fast aperture like f/1.4 or even faster for really shallow depth of field. Check out our nature and wildlife lens guides for more info and recommendations.

A tripod will help to stabilize the camera. For slow shutter speeds a tripod will give you more accurate exposures. A tripod will also help you to get sharper, more detailed images which is essential for creating abstract nature photographs.

A long exposure is a must for abstract nature photography. You need to be able to hold the camera still long enough for an image to be captured or else the motion blur will ruin your image.

Abstract Nature Photography Composition Tips

To draw attention to an element in a photo, bring the other elements in the image to a larger scale.

Adding color lines or shapes to your abstract nature photograph can give it an abstract feel. A great way to do this is to select images with colored lines that are similar, but not exact. This can be done in post processing by adjusting the saturation and levels (hue, brightness and contrast).

Another way to create an abstract effect is to use light trails. If you use flash then you can easily capture light trails by using long exposures. This will capture the colors as they are fading, giving a cool abstract look.

Abstract nature photography tends to work best around sunrise and sunset or in low lighting conditions such as early mornings or evening hours (golden hour) where the sky is a natural color. If you are taking images with flash then early morning and evening works best. Make sure to take a look at the guide for shooting at sunrise and sunset for more tips.

Take advantage of the direction of light in your photo by making shadows from objects or other parts of the scene. If you have a long exposure that will capture the movement of clouds then you can use this to your advantage.

Abstract Landscape Photography Subjects

The number of possible subjects for nature abstracts is only limited by your imagination. It is important to use your creative eye and imagination when composing an abstract scene. Think about how color and light play on your subject and use it to your advantage.

Some great subject ideas to get you started include trees, oceans, mountains, waterfalls and forests. Some other abstract nature photography ideas include:

Abstract landscape photos near waterfalls or rivers with lots of fog

Abstract shots from the bottom of a river or lake at sunset with the sky in the background (see below)

Foggy abstract images at sunrise near lakes and rivers. The fog will light up as the sun rises making for an amazing image.

Abstract sunset images from the ocean with the waves crashing into the rocks.

Abstract clouds scenes at sunrise or sunset. The clouds will light up in beautiful colors as they move across the sky, especially if there is a lot of wind.

Abstract photos taken from an airplane window during flight. Try to take abstract photos of interesting cloud patterns or a sunset with colors streaking off in different directions.

And that only scratches the surface. There are so many great landscape and nature photography subjects can capture using abstract photography techniques. The key is to get out there and start shooting.

Bottom Line

Abstract nature photography is not easy, but if you can capture a beautiful abstract image then it will be well worth the effort. It will stand out from most landscape or wildlife photos which makes abstract nature one of the most popular forms of photography today.

Don’t forget to share your favorite abstract nature photo by leaving a link in the comments section below.