How to Photograph Textures and Patterns
We have a vista before us of green fields, trees, old farm buildings and stone walls. Each of these in themselves would make a great photograph. You could photograph them singly, as a whole or in different combinations. There are, however, more views before you than are obvious at first. Look at a single part of the whole. For example trees have bark, trunks, branches, leaves, twigs and roots. Get in close and try to capture the pattern or texture of what is before you.
Taking a photograph of a leaf for example may seem easy but if you go in even closer losing the whole leaf and focus on its veins. You are now getting the texture of the leaf or patterns within it.
Think laterally instead of seeing what is obvious. The gaps between trees can be as exciting as the trees themselves. The dark hollow trunk of a gnarled oak has a form of its own with dark recesses and splashes of light. You do not need the viewer of your picture to say ‘˜nice tree’, occasionally you want them to stand and ponder. If the object is not blatantly obvious they will see the patterns and textures and become engrossed. You are creating a work of art not a biological study.
Think of a room in your home and list the various textures within it. The kitchen has smooth work surfaces of wood or granite. These have smooth textures and patterns in the grain. The carpet on the floor has tufted fibres and tiles form patterns. Glass is very smooth and reflects back in the right light. A group of tins has form which can be altered. A wheeled tin opener leaves tin lids with a smooth cutting edge but others leave ragged and dangerous edges.
You have to learn about patters and textures but soon you will recognise them in everything you see. View objects up close, from an acute angle or from on high and their shapes and textures change. Hold an egg in your hand and then pick up a cheese grater. You can feel the difference of textures. Crack the egg into a bowl and you have a different texture and pattern to photograph. Go in very close to each surface of the grater, concentrating on the holes, and then stand it upright and look at it from different angles.
Capturing textures and patterns is really seeing what is there. You have to recognise them for what they are. As a real challenge can you make a really rough object look smooth? Can you change a carpet into a world of hills and hollows? The way to do this is within your imagination. Once you have a grasp of what you want to produce then things become clearer.
Get the camera out and see what is out there. Create a portfolio of patterns to confuse the senses of people. Make them feel the textures in your photographs. Different lighting techniques will bring out the textures in different forms. Overhead lighting leaves things looking very flat whereas side lighting creates shadows and highlights.
Use different exposures to see if you can improve your results. There are worlds within worlds out there so get out and capture them.