David Johnston

How to Process Your Abstract Photography

David Johnston
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Duration:   9  mins

Are you one of the outdoor photographers who favor wide dramatic images of the landscape, the big background sky, the main mid-ground subject and the colorful foreground? Most of us love those beautiful images and take pains to get them right. But you might want to take a left turn and explore abstract photography. In this premium video, Outdoor Photography Guide’s David Johnston gives you ideas on how to explore the unlikely subjects created through abstract photography.

When David visited Death Valley Park on a shoot, he was taken with the dramatic vistas of land, mountains and sky. But then he discovered another subject at his feet, the mud cracks that pattern the vast playa. Venturing into the field of abstract photography, he captured hundreds of close-up images of the dried mud patterns, deep thick black lines and tiny cracks.

In Lightroom, he navigated through all the files and discovered one with dramatic lines of varying shapes. Like David, you will find that abstract photography often involves bringing out contrast. To enhance detail, David lowers the exposure to dramatize the shadows. With the temperature tool, he adds blue and then increases the contrast. He also works with the highlights and shadows, keeping an eye on the histogram, careful not to overexpose or underexpose the photo.

For further enhancement, he increases vibrance, luminance and saturation and then plays with the colors. You want to experiment with various Lightroom tools to create that powerful appearance. In the end, your viewers may not even recognize your subject. With David’s image, is this a picture of dried mud or is it just a beautiful pattern? This is what abstract photography is all about.

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