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Your initial reaction to the word “texture” is probably not as an object to view in a photograph. You’re more likely to think of texture as referring to a surface you touch and then, through the sense of feel, identify as smooth, rough, hard, soft, natural, painted, etc. This makes taking digital photography of various textures particularly challenging because you must communicate the feel as well as the look.
There are textures virtually everywhere in the human environment; and, as you train your photographer’s eye, you’ll begin to see more of them and discover how amazing they are as worthy subject matter for your digital photos. The purpose of this PhotographyTalk.com article is to open your eyes and help you look for some of common textures and how to shoot uncommon pictures of them.
Bricks and Walls
Bricks are manufactured in one basic shape, but there are others, and in a various colors. New bricks reveal more color and can appear smoother. Old bricks can be pitted and deteriorated from the weather, which can make for very interesting textures. Bricks also create walls; and, in that larger form, represent a different feel or surface than an individual brick. A brick wall could also include a door or window, made from wood or metal, raw, painted or weathered, allowing you to show multiple textures in one photo.
Trees and Their Foliage
Texture is an essential feature of any natural object or material, such as tree bark or the surface of leaves, buds and flowers. The bark of a tree is tough and hard for reasons of survival and growth. Leaves and flowers also have surfaces that help to repel or attract insects or water, which is critical to pollination or to avoid various blights and diseases. Plants of all kinds provide many opportunities to shoot macro photography to show the minute details of their surfaces.
Paint, of course, adds color to your digital photos and presents a large palette of textures. A new coat of paint will be intensely colorful because the light will reflect off the smooth surface. Peeling paint is a classic texture for the photographer. Also, look for drip marks, brush marks, brush hairs partially stuck in the paint, the uneven or perfectly straight border between two colors of paint, etc.
As either a natural or human-shaped object, stone may offer the most fascinating choice of textures to photograph. Here is an opportunity to learn a little geology because every type of natural stone is different; or a specimen may be a combination of stones, creating even more wonderful textures. Stone used architecturally, for exteriors or interiors, may have been cut, thus revealing internal surfaces that haven’t been viewed in millions of years. Even manufactured faux stone for patios or gardens will have textures for your camera.
This is another natural substance loaded with textures. Think of the tree mentioned above fallen and rotting in the forest. It’s bark takes on an entirely different look. Look for a woodpile and the cut, exposed ends of each piece. Move in close to individual pieces of tiny shavings or splinters that reveal the interior surface of the wood. Once a trunk has been planed into planks, you’ll find intricate knots and swirls with their own textures. Antiques made from wood offer another group of textures.
Almost every type of fabric, whether for flooring, furniture, furnishings or clothing, has a different texture. You can find plenty in your home. Many of the best can be captured with macro photography, while others are clearly revealed when backlit.
Rope is probably not an object you use regularly, but you can find it along a waterfront, especially where commercial fishermen dock their boats. You may discover various styles of rope, many with different textures. Plus, many will be weathered, have knots and kinks and be frayed, which will make your digital photos of textures very interesting.
You’ll probably find almost as many metal surfaces in your immediate environment as fabrics. There’s the smooth metal of a kitchen appliance or tabletop, the rough surface of a metal file and the various textures found on tools, equipment and items as small as nails and screws. Metal is also susceptible to the weather and regular aging.
Being able to locate, identify and shoot excellent digital photos of textures is all part of training your photographer’s eye.