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HOW TO: Fun Abstracts

July 27, 2012 33 comments

Recently I was watching videos by photographer Bryan Peterson on various photographic hints and techniques. Primarily, I was interested in honing my skills using a flash. I learned a lot of useful and creative methods for using flashes in outdoor photography. Then I watched whatever was next in line.

One exercise he demonstrated caught my attention, and it had nothing to do with flashes at all. He used common household items as props to create fun and interesting abstracts.

Here is my take on it. You will need a few things to get started and there is no need to buy anything or even leave your house. First thing you will need is a tripod although if you do this outside and it is bright enough, you may be able to go with hand-held.

Next you will need a clear casserole dish, some water, cooking oil, and a brightly colored shirt or fabric of sorts. I used both patterned shirts and solid colored shirts to see the different effects.

Place the fabric of choice, which will be the background of the photo, on a table or even the patio or deck. Prop up the casserole dish slightly above the shirt with whatever you have around. Wooden blocks, books or even several drinking glasses. The idea is to elevate the dish so you can change out the fabric easily.

Set up your camera on the tripod so the lens is parallel with the bottom of the dish. Add some water. I filled my dish about 1/3rd of the way. Then add some cooking oil. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil forms all these neat circles floating on the water. With the fabric underneath the dish, the patterns and colors take on a whole new look.

Play around with different exposures to obtain the look you want. Drawing a spoon or your finger slowly through the mix will make different size circles. Or even stir it a little to make millions of small circles. All three shirts I used were of different colors and each produced totally different effects.

Give it a try…it’s a lot of fun!