Photographing textures allows us to transform an ordinary object into something visually stunning. I especially love to work with subjects that might not in themselves be considered beautiful, artistic or unique. There’s an advantage in this — textures can be found all over our urban and natural environments, and they don’t require the acquisition of special props.
- Reminding us of pasts
- we ought not forget
- even those embroiled
- in pain and horror
- Once soft curves
- now hardened and crusty
- once straight lines
- now blurred and crooked
- Old phases of strength
- turn to prophetic wrinkles
- re-visioned as conduits
- to textures with life.
Not every texture makes a good photograph, but, with time and practice, you will develop an eye for what works. To capture texture effectively in a photograph, you need to accentuate surface crinkles, waves, and folds, or lack of them. There are four major factors that strongly present texture: details, patterns, color and depth. All contribute equally to making an image rather sensual.
When all of these elements come together just right, the result can be quite spectacular, even if the subject is a rusting bolt surrounded by rotting wood or the weave of a fishing net stretched out in a parking lot.
Captivating textures are all around us – on a simple wooden ledge, surfaces of silverware, fallen leaves under your neighbor’s tree, dry-docked boats in disrepair, or even the wrinkled face of an elder.
A little hint: The worst thing to do when trying to photograph textures is to use your on-camera flash. Light from the on-camera flash is very harsh, and, since it also comes at the same angle as that of the lens, the image will be rendered as flat and devoid of colors.
I like to think of our personal stories as textures in our biographies. Perhaps that is where my mind drifts when I see details in a disintegrating pier or the peeling paint on the bottom of a boat – I am wondering how varied events over the years shaped this object’s present state – and my life as well.
Finally, remember that many texture images work well when they appear to expand beyond the edges of the photograph.
Give it a try with your smart phone or DSLR, and remind yourself to keep the composition simple by repositioning anything that may break the pattern or interrupt the rhythm of the final image.