Creative Abstracts or Junk

As I work to catch up on the thousands of images I’ve taken over the last 6 months, I’ve come across some opportunities to prepare and present some abstracts. Unlike my usual wildlife or landscape images, these abstracts are more creative. They may be intentional blurs, unusual compositions, or in this case, long exposures.

Back in February, I went out to Canaveral National Seashore to try some different compositions with sunrise. There was some cloud cover that morning and a brisk wind, so I thought I would try to do some long exposures with my 10 stop ND filter and see what I could come up with. I’ve seen some great images of long exposures with cloud movement, so I wanted to give it a try. I brought home a few images that I thought might work for some creative abstracts, but I just don’t have the confidence yet to know if images like these actually work. These images are more artistic, and while I have a great deal of confidence in identifying a strong landscape or exceptional wildlife image, I just don’t have the same gut feeling about a creative image such as this one.

This image lacks one of the keys to a strong composition. There is no foreground element that draws in the viewer’s eye or creates scale. In that sense, the image is a flop. However, composition rules are meant to be tested and broken otherwise all images would pretty much have the same elements in them. So a purist might look at this image and give it a thumbs down. But as an abstract, do the rules of composition still apply?

The first image here is straight out of the camera. The image was taken at 24mm, f22, 25 seconds at ISO 100. I’m sure I had the 10-stop filter dialed in somewhere towards the dark end, but I don’t remember how dark. I liked the movement of the clouds and the smooth ocean water that the long exposure provided and I thought that the image had a dreamy mood to it. Click an image to view larger.

Canaveral National Seashore Sunrise - Original Abstract
Canaveral National Seashore Sunrise – Original Abstract

This next image is the same one as above, but I flattened out the tonal contrast, added some additional warmth and sunlight and gave the image a little bit of BuzSim filter to enhance the dreaminess of the image. I liked how the extra light and warmth added to the image, but I’m not sure that either image is something that someone might hang on a wall. But art is subjective and you never know what other people will like.

Canaveral National Seashore Sunrise - Edited Abstract
Canaveral National Seashore Sunrise – Edited Abstract

So that’s where you come in. Please let me know which image you prefer, or if you think both are junk and should be tossed, let me know that too. Your feedback is welcome either way as it will help me understand what kind of creative abstracts will work and which ones are better left in the recycle bin.


  • Greg Bischoff

    August 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    personally i like the colder image. But if they work or not is up to you. You need to like them Or it will be hard for others to. This is just me but go with your vision

    • Michael

      August 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Greg. I appreciate the advice.

  • Jess Yarnell

    August 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I like #1. #2 just doesn’t quite work for me. I’m not crazy about the Topaz effect on the sun. Keep playing with your ND filter. I think you’ll like the moving cloud effect on a morning with whispier clouds that move faster.

    • Michael

      August 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks, Jess!