Texture Photography -- Part 2

Article and Photography by Ron Bigelow


Part 1 of this series covered the fundamentals of texture photography. Parts 2 and 3 will apply the concepts of texture photography to various subject matter.


Figure 1: Building
 Texture Photography Buildings

Buildings are a rich source of opportunities for texture photography. This is especially true for old buildings.

When photographing buildings, there are a couple of ways to approach the subject: photographing part of the building or photographing the entire building.

When a part of a building is photographed, the camera is generally moved in close to isolate an interesting section of the building. So, it is necessary to start by identifying an interesting component of the building that will serve as the center of interest of the image. Most likely, this will be an object that has an interesting form. In addition, due to the camera being so close to the building, the texture will be a dominant characteristic of the image. Thus, it is critical that the texture also be interesting. Last, the light is important. Side light will usually be best as it will enhance the center of interest and the texture.

When an entire building is photographed, the situation changes. The texture will now be in a supporting role. It is still important to have good texture, but the shape and character of the building are the most important factors. Thus, it is crucial that the building be selected carefully and that the image be well composed.

As far as light is concerned, early morning or late afternoon light will tend to add personality to a building.

Last, the surrounding environment can be very important in this type of image. The environment can add information to an image that helps tell the story of the building.

Last, don't forget the sky. A colorless, featureless sky can ruin an otherwise interesting building shot. Look for either some clouds or some color that contrasts with the building to help make the building stand out.


Figure 2: Rock
Texture Photography Rock

Rock formations can be used to create great texture images. Of course, when selecting a rock formation for a texture image, the texture is going to be a primary concern. However, there are a few other things that should be considered: rock form, rock color, and curves.

The forms that are created by the various pieces of rock can help define the character of an image. For example, smooth rock will help to create a feeling of calm while jagged rock will create a feeling of tension or unease. So, the forms of the rock must work harmoniously with the rest of the image to create the emotion the photographer wishes to instill in a viewer.

The color of the rock can add richness to an image. So, if the rock has a strong color, it is usually best to capitalize on it. This can be done in a couple of ways. First, a polarizer can often be used to enhance the color. Second, the light for the image should be chosen carefully. This generally means that these types of images should either be shot during the magic hour (half hour after sunrise or half hour before sunset) or with reflected light. Either of these types of light will likely help to enhance the saturation of the rock.

Curves in rock can be used to add impact to an image. However, as mentioned in Part 1 of this article series, it is important to remember that curves add emotional content to an image (for more information, see Advanced Composition). For instance, graceful curves add a sense of elegance, horizontal curves create a feeling of stability, and jagged curves create an uncomfortable atmosphere. So, the curves must match the overall mood that the image is to project.

A couple of final points should be remembered. First, don't forget to consider having a strong center of interest to draw a viewer's attention. Second, if there is a background (such as a sky), it is usually best to choose a background that contrasts with the rock in order to accentuate the rock formation.


Figure 3: Log
Texture Photograhy Logs


Logs are one of the easiest objects to use for creating texture images. This is because they have two characteristics that lend themselves to texture photography: contrast and curves.

The first thing to look for when scouting out logs for texture photography is the contrast. It is necessary to start with a log that has enough contrast to grab a viewer's attention. This usually means that a log must have a grain that has contrast. The second thing to look for is a set of curves. These can be either leading or non-leading curves. The important thing is that the curves add to the image in some way.

An image of a log can frequently be enhanced by including something from the environment that surrounds the log. The most likely objects for this will be flowers or vegetation.

Often, side light works well to help emphasis the contrast in the grain. However, side light is not always necessary. This is particularly true if some drama can be added to an image in some other way. For instance, when old logs get wet, the wood can sometimes become darker and take on a more moody feel. This works great for texture photography. In addition, when objects (such as the flowers or vegetation already mentioned) contrast in tone or color with the wood, this may add all the drama that is needed.


Figure 4: Plants
Texture Photogrpahy Plants

Plants are great for texture photography because they are everywhere. That means that you don't need to travel someplace to get some great shots. All you have to do is visit your backyard.

There are so many characteristics of plants that can be used to create interesting texture images. Of course, the first thing to look for is good texture. This is usually pretty easy to find in a garden. However, you don't want to stop there. After some plants that have good texture have been found, you should look for other aspects of the plants that can be used to create an even better image.

One of the things for which one should look is any interesting curves. Often, this comes in the form of curves formed by the edges of leaves or curves that result from plant stems. The next thing that should be considered is color. Color demands a viewer's attention. Thus, the more saturated the color, the more interested people will likely be in an image. Even better than color is contrasting color. Contrasting color can really make an image come alive.

The best light for plant photography is usually a diffuse light. That means that great plant shots can be captured on overcast days or early/late in the day when the garden is in shadow.

The seasons play an important part in plant photography. Spring produces beautiful, lush greens. Autumn can produce stunning fall colors (depending on where you live). Unfortunately, summer and winter are less ideal for plant photography as the plants are less vibrant at that time.


Figure 5: Trees
Texture Photogrpahy Trees
Trees provide a rich variety of texture photography opportunities. Great texture images can be created from the leaves, bark, or roots.

When using the leaves as texture photography subject matter, the guidelines pretty much follow those covered in the Plants section directly above. In other words, one should look for interesting curves, color, and color contrast. Furthermore, the best light is often produced by overcast conditions that create a soft, diffuse light.

The bark of trees often has great texture. Furthermore, the texture commonly forms an irregular pattern. This can create some great subject matter for texture photography. Of course, in this case, it is necessary to move in close enough to concentrate on the bark. However, there is one problem that can occur when photographing the bark. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, while patterns can often capture a viewer's interest, simple patterns can sometimes fail to hold that interest for very long. Consequently, it is best to figure out a way to add some interest to the pattern. This is often fairly easy with tree bark. All that may be necessary is to break the pattern. This can be done by finding some irregularity in the bark (such as a knot).

With some trees, roots can be the most interesting part of the tree for texture photography. This is because of the interesting patterns that roots can form. The key here is to find a tree with exposed roots. These roots can form jagged, irregular curves that can add a sinister or menacing mood to an image. Side light may help to strengthen this mood. However, this sinister/menacing mood can sometimes be captured even with diffuse light.


Figure 6: Insects
Texture Photography Insects
Another opportunity for texture photography is to photograph insects. There are a couple of different ways that insects can be used for texture photography: macro shots and non-macro shots.

Obviously, for macro shots, the camera must be moved in very close to the insect. This allows one to photography the texture of the insect. This texture can take many forms. For some insects, the texture can be almost grotesque as the insects appear as tiny monsters. For other insects, the texture can take on beautiful patterns. For instance, this is the case with butterfly's and some beetles.

For macro shots of insects, macro equipment will be needed. A detailed explanation of macro equipment and techniques is beyond the scope of this article. The only comment that will be made is that ordinary sunlight will likely not be sufficient for this type of photography. Some macro flash capability will be required.

However, a lack of macro equipment is no reason to miss out on insect photography. Great insect images can be captured without a macro lens. It is just necessary to back up a little bit. For non-macro insect shots, the best results can often be captured by showing the insects within their environment. In fact, for non-macro shots, most of the texture may come from the environment rather than the insects.

The best light for this type of image varies from one situation to another. So, it will be necessary to use a little bit of judgment to select the best light for each shot.


If this article gave you any ideas, it is time to grab your camera and held out to capture some eye-catching, texture images. However, there is still more to come. Part 3 of this series will look at some more texture photography opportunities. Part 3 will be published about June 26.


Texture Photography -- Part 1     Texture Photography -- Part 3