Using Plants To Create Semi-Abstract Compositions

The previous article in this series ended with a flowerscape which was a semi-abstract composition and this article will take that idea further.  It will look at consciously exploiting the use of colours and textures provided by plants and other natural features to produce semi-abstract effects. 

The chief tools here are (as ever) careful framing, and the use of texture and off-focus features to create the abstraction.  This can be done for its own sake or to produce something more practical such as a Windows desktop background that is restful on the eye and on which all icons are clearly visible.  You may or may not like this way of working, but I include it for completeness.

Bamboo in Kew Gardens

By coming in close to the bamboo in the picture on the left the portrayal of how bamboo grows is replaced by the crowding and texture of the individual stalks.  The whole composition maintains a uniform hue across its area and within that uses the yellow, green, shadow, horizontal stalk dividing lines and the other visible features to produce what is basically a texture. 

 It could be made into a repeat pattern in which the basic design repeats as in a wallpaper or carpet design, but it will need some computer work on smoothing out the edges of the repeating tiles to make it smoothly continuous.

Soft Focus Purple Texture

The purple pattern in the picture on the right  is a section of the off-focus background of a picture of the leaves of a purple and green-leafed plant; there is a small area of leaf in focus at the bottom right-hand corner which was retained to include the naturally off-focus leaves behind it.  It allows the leaves, stems, light, shadow and soft-focus to create a pattern.

Off focus garden for restful desktop background

The idea of soft-focus can be taken further by purposely using manual focus to blur a picture taken purely for the varied colours of foliage and the occasional flower.  Autofocus will of course bring these features into sharp focus, but if your camera has manual focus you can counteract this taking it so far off true focus that it becomes a set of merging colours.  The texture on the left reflects the natural colours of foliage, plants and fencing across several gardens.  The original was cropped to take off the strong highlight of the sky and a uniform piece of brown fencing in the foreground, so that only the colours and their merging one into another remain. 

It makes a very pleasant and restful Windows desktop background, on which the individual icons are clearly visible due to their stronger colours.

Water Feature, Loch Lomond, ScotlandYou do not have to stop with just flowers and plants.  This whole series of articles has been about having the alertness to notice the unusual in the natural environment and then to portray it according to your choice of method and with the photographic skill and tools at your disposal.  The picture of water on the right is merely an extension of this.  It is actually the wake of a power-boat taken from its upper deck as it came in to shore at Loch Lomond, Scotland. It was consciously intended to be as abstract as it could possibly be made.

In conclusion, I hope that this series of articles has been stimulating and informative and that it will encourage you to go out and photograph flowers, shrubs and plants in all their wonderful variety, and that it has also taught lessons that you can take and apply in other areas of photography.  There are also many other stimulating and rewarding areas into which an interest in photographing flowers will naturally take you.