One of the benefits of digital photography—and reading PhotographyTalk.com’s series of how-to articles—is that it helps you develop your abilities to perceive the world around you. That is one of the common themes of these articles: when you start to see your environment differently, you’ll recognize photography opportunities that have been otherwise invisible to you. Composing pictures that tell stories; understanding how to control exposure, lighting, depth of field, etc.; and imparting motion to your still digital photos are just a few of the concepts that will open your eyes to the great variety of photos you can take.
As you develop your photographer’s eye, another element in your environment that should become more visible is patterns. A pattern can become the entire photo, with a close-up of a wire mesh or grill, which creates an abstract image. A pattern can also appear as a subtle accent to highlight your primary subject, or lead viewers’ eyes to the subject. Look for the patterns presented below and new ones, and then start to use them to make your digital photos more interesting, dynamic and artistic.
1. Uniform Patterns
These should be the easiest to recognize wherever you may be. Examples are a straight section of the freeway that is many lanes wide and divided by painted lines; the shadows of a row of trees or fence railing and posts; or a series of doorways of the same height shot at an extreme angle, so you can see down the line of doors. Sometimes, you must move to a higher point to see uniform patterns below.
2. Random Patterns
Objects can be randomly spaced and still suggest a pattern. That contrast is what will make your digital photos more interesting. Helium-filled party balloons bobbing against your ceiling. A flock of birds take to the skies together. It’s a pattern, but the birds are not flying in formation. Shooting toward a light source that is reflected in the circular, but scattered, pattern of tabletop rings caused by wet glasses and bottles.
3. Combination Patterns
This type of pattern is rare and you must use any combination of patterns in your photos carefully. Combinations can quickly cause confusion in the mind of the viewer and/or overwhelm your primary subject/focal point. A person wearing a shirt with brightly-colored horizontal bars probably shouldn’t stand in front of a background of brightly-colored vertical bars or a random pattern of colored lights.
4. Interrupted Patterns
You can create interest and drama in your digital photos with uniform patterns that are interrupted or broken. Think of the example of the fencepost shadows above. Now, one fencepost is missing, causing a gap in the previously uniform pattern. Now your photo causes viewers to wonder why the fencepost missing? Did it rot? Was it stolen? Did someone kick it in anger? They create a story in their minds that the uniform pattern couldn’t. Color is often the interrupting factor, as in a pattern of objects all the same color, except for one. Again, the pattern is recorded in your digital photo, but it is saying something more to viewers because that one object stubbornly refuses to conform.
Your world is full of patterns and, now, with the tips in this article, they should start to become visible to you. Use this new skill to improve your digital photography.
Photo by PhotographyTalk Member Bunglepics