Abstract Spiral Stairway

Capturing abstract photography with your EOS DSLR

EOS tutorial

Whether you’re visiting somewhere new or capturing the place you live, it’s always worth trying to find ways of shooting that will help you create more interesting, distinctive images.

Antonio Thomás Koenigkam Oliveira, Carousel - Copyright Info: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Choose a different angle

Like most people, you probably shoot most of your photography at eye-level. But by using the Live View feature on your camera (and the Vari-angle LCD if your camera has this feature), you’ll suddenly find you can compose pictures in much more interesting positions.

Try this: position the camera low to the ground and rotate the Vari-angle LCD so that you can see it by looking straight down. Or, for a view over the heads of a crowd, put the camera on a monopod and angle the LCD down. You can then hold the camera up and see what it sees – a very different view from your normal position.

Take control in Live View

Live View gives you a preview of your image on your camera’s LCD. Take more creative control over your images by using Live View to select your point of focus yourself. If your camera has a touch screen, this is even easier. Just touch the LCD where you want the camera to focus, set the AF to Live Mode and the camera will focus at that point in the frame.

Hiroyuki Takeda, Boundary zone- Copyright Info: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Use the neck strap as a wrist strap

If you’re shooting from a high vantage point looking down on a scene below, you’ll need to have a firm hold on your camera. Twisting the neck strap around your wrist helps stabilise the camera at the same time as helping protect you from dropping it.

Freeze a moving subject

Moving subjects can make for really unusual photographs, revealing moments we normally miss. To freeze the movement of a subject in the frame, you’ll need a fast shutter speed. The exact shutter speed will depend on factors like the speed of your subject and their distance from you. To freeze moving people, select the Sports mode on your camera or use Shutter priority mode (labelled Tv on the camera Mode dial) and select a shutter speed of 1/250s or faster.

Capture contrast

When light is bright, it creates deep dark shadows. This is called contrast, and making good use of it can add richness to your images. However when you’re shooting on bright, sunny days, the contrast that you can see is more than the camera can capture. You can compensate for this with the HDR Backlight Control mode found on many EOS cameras. You’ll find it in the SCN setting on the Mode dial. Using this will cause the camera to take three frames for each shot, combining them for a result that appears to have much wider contrast range than a single frame.


Get the best out of low angles

Shooting from a low angle creates a dynamic perspective, but it can also leave the foreground underexposed if your composition includes a lot of sky, which fools the camera’s metering. Using positive exposure compensation will enable you to lighten the frame if the main subjects are too dark.

Be ready for the perfect moment

If you’re planning a shot with the camera held over the heads of other people on a tripod or monopod then it might be difficult to reach the shutter button at just the right moment. You could use a remote release cable – either RS-60E3 or RS-80N3 depending on your camera model – to fire the shutter. Alternatively, if your camera has Wi-Fi, use your smartphone to remotely connect to the camera – including Live View – and trigger the shutter from your phone.

Stay the right way up

Every camera has an orientation sensor to recognise the position of the camera – horizontal or vertical – and ensure that pictures are correctly orientated on the LCD and computer screen. But if you’re shooting directly down or up, this orientation system can get confused: turn the auto-rotate feature off in the settings menus (yellow) to ensure that all your pictures are consistently the same way round.

Mia Felicita Bertelli - Copyright Info: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

See in black and white

When shooting a more abstract image, the key elements of the picture change: it often becomes more about texture, contrast, shadows and shapes than colour. By setting your camera to the Monochrome Picture Style, maybe with the yellow filter setting, you will see a monochrome preview on the camera LCD, helping you to visualise your scene without colour. If the camera is set to capture RAW images, then you can restore the colour when you process your images on your computer.

Make the most of multiple exposures

Several of the advanced EOS cameras can capture multiple exposures, which you can use to make frames where moving subjects appear less obviously in the frame, while static elements like buildings are captured normally. Fix the camera in position, ideally on a tripod, and then set the multiple exposure mode to average each of the individual frames. Preset the camera to take at least three frames and then release the shutter a few seconds apart. Once taken the camera will blend all the individual frames, but where the content has changed it will be less visible almost ghostly. The more frames you capture, the less visible the moving subjects will be.

Create stunning time-lapse films

By capturing a sequence of images over a period of hours, you can use your camera to create a beautiful time-lapse film. Some EOS cameras can be used with the Timer Controller TC-80N3. This connects to the camera and can be set to capture a picture at a preset interval over a period of several hours. The EOS 7D Mark II includes an intervalometer in the camera menu that works in much the same way.

Go further: Once you have captured your time-lapse sequence, you can edit it together with a static overlay with no people in it, giving the impression that a busy city is in fact empty. You can see a great example of this technique in Ross Ching’s ‘Empty America’ project, here. And here’s how he did it.

Submit your shot to our  Gallery

If you've felt inspired to capture an image from a different perspective, why not send your photos to our You Connect Gallery? It's where we showcase and share our favourite images sent in by the Canon community.

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Coming Next: Seeing the world without a viewfinder

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