Creative Abstract Photography Class and Workshops

Mary Louise Ravese, Bella Vista Photography

Sundays, October 31, November 7 and 14, and December 5, 2021 – 1:00 pm–3:00 pm

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Abstract photography allows the photographer the freedom to discover and explore "ordinary" subjects from a fresh perspective for the sheer beauty of their characteristics of color, texture and shape. Learning abstract photography techniques is an excellent exercise in expanding and refining the "photographer's eye" and enables participants to create images that are uniquely their own, employing strong visual design elements. It is a valuable learning exercise that will improve not just the participant's ability to make abstract imagery, but take a more creative approach in all types of images from landscapes to portraiture and beyond.

abstract photography collage

In this program, instructor Mary Louise Ravese shares some her favorite techniques for creating abstract photographs in the studio and the field. The combination of lecture, demonstration, and hands-on photography shooting sessions is sure to spark the imagination and produce some unique and beautiful abstract images.

This program is best suited for those who understand basic digital SLR, mirrorless, or smartphone camera use and are looking for a creative challenge, unique photography opportunities, and to expand the vision of their "photographer's eye."

Some of the Techniques Covered

Architectural Abstracts

Participants will learn about creating abstracts by selectively isolating design elements of color, shape, line and texture found in buildings and other structures.

The Play of Light on Contours

Participants will study the play of light on the contours of both opaque materials like paper and plastic, as well as transparent subjects like bubbles and glass objects.

Distorted Reflections

Participants will use a variety of shiny and reflective surfaces with unusual shapes and textures that distort the reflections of patterned objects in fascinating ways.

Movement During Long Exposures

Participants will see colorful scenes like gardens in a new way as they practice intentional camera movements like panning, zooming, and rotating during long exposures.

One thing is for sure, this workshop could be the most fun you've had as an adult and it will transform your ideas about where and how to make unique images.

Who Should Attend

Experienced beginner, intermediate, and advanced DSLR, mirrorless or smartphone camera users. Participants must be familiar with basic camera operation, including the setting of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Smartphone users should know how to focus in a specific place and adjust exposure brightness. An extra app may be required for long exposure photography using a smartphone.

Hybrid Class Format

For all participants: The live, online sessions allow participants to join from multiple physical locations while allowing you to ask questions in real time. You'll learn about abstract photography principles, what to shoot, design considerations, even key settings for certain techniques. Mary Louise will also explain and demonstrate how to setup DIY photo shoots for you to try on your own. You will complete your photo shoot of each setup offline. After a multi-week break after session three, the workshop will conclude with a final online session on December 5 where participants can share and receive feedback on a selection of the abstract images they've created.

All online session will be recorded so you can replay them later for reference.

For participants from the Raleigh, North Carolina, area, you have the option to add in-person photo shoot sessions for hands-on photography with Mary Louise. You can purchase the in-person photo shoots a la carte, or the bundle of all three shoots at a discounted price.

Optional In-person Photo Shoots

Photo Shoot #1 – November 8 – 10:00 am–12:00 pm

Meets at the JC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, North Carolina
Photo shoot theme: light on contours


Photo Shoot #2 – November 11 – 10:00 am–12:00 pm

Meets at the JC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, North Carolina
Photo shoot theme: reflections and distortions


Photo Shoot #3 – November 15 – 10:00 am–12:00 pm

Meets at 311 Gallery, Raleigh, North Carolina
Photo shoot theme: architectural abstracts
Explore Raleigh's warehouse arts district on foot and practice photographing architectural abstracts


Mary Louise Ravese

About Mary Louise Ravese

Mary Louise Ravese specializes in fine art nature and travel photography from locations across the world. Her photographs are in private, university, and corporate collections in over 40 states and are exhibited nationally. She is the owner and principle photographer for Bella Vista Photography, and has a resident artist studio at 311 Gallery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mary Louise is a regular speaker and competition judge for photography clubs in multiple states. She is an experienced photography instructor who has trained hundreds of amateur photographers. She enjoys teaching on a wide range of topics related to nature, travel, and creative photography, and can help with both the technical and aesthetic aspects of picture making. Mary Louise leads classes and workshops at a variety of locations across the United States and abroad. For more information visit her Web site at

$159 for members, $179.00 for nonmembers. The optional in-person photography sessions require separate registrations.
Advance registration is required. Please register online using our registration e-store. Registration is limited to 20 people and is considered complete when payment is received.
Program cancellations can be made up to two weeks prior to the program's start date. No refunds will be made after this time. A 15% cancellation fee applies.
The class is offered online while the optional photography sessions are at the JC Raulston Arboretum and in downtown Raleigh.
Need directions? Click here.
Free parking is available at the JC Raulston Arboretum and along Beryl Road.
Please call (919) 513-7005 for more information about this program.