Saturday, November 22, 2014

Texture: elements of visual design, part 4

This month's Boost Your Photography: 52 Weeks Challenge is focusing in on the basic elements of composition: line, shape, form or volume, texture, and color. This week your challenge is to pay attention to texture. See how thinking about texture can help you grow in your photography. (Click here to read part 1, The Linepart 2, Shape, and part 3, Form or Volume.)


My favorite definition of texture comes from Michael Freeman's The Complete Guide to Black and White Digital Photography, "Texture is structure and form on a small scale, meaning small relative to the view. And, because a texture is, by definition, something that is reasonably consistent over a substantial area of a surface, it is usually a repetitive structure" (page 54).

Just like form and volume, texture is often emphasized by strong, directional light. This type of light creates harsh shadows, bringing emphasis and attention to the variations in the texture of your subject. The photograph above, of the peeling paint, was shot under diffused, cloudy light, so there is no apparent direction in the light and no harsh shadows.

By contrast, the photograph above was shot under strong, direct sunlight, and you can see the deeper shadows in the ridges. Had the sun been coming from a lower side angle, rather than still fairly high overhead, the effect would have been even stronger.

Backlighting is another potential way to emphasize the texture of an object. With backlight, the light source is placed directly behind your subject, relative to the camera. This style of backlighting produces what is called "rim light" or light that is shining around and through the edges of your subject. This style of lighting works best to highlight the texture of fuzzy subjects and edges, like the chenille plant above.

Texture is also an interesting element to pursue at a macro or close-up level. The closer in you get to your subject, the easier it is to see and capture interesting variations in texture. With the leaf, above, a close-up shot reveals the various veins and ridges of the internal structure of the leaf. With the penny below, you can really see the different layers that make up the embossed design.

How Will You Use Texture?

Keep your eye out for interesting textures this week. Seek out different lighting situations and see how the texture appears to change. Share a link or a photograph in the comments below, or consider joining the BYP 52 Weeks Google+ Community to share your weekly photograph and see what others are capturing.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.
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