Texture Photography -- Part 3

Article and Photography by Ron Bigelow


This article will wind up this three part series on texture photography by applying the concepts of texture photography to three, additional types of subject matter.


Figure 1: Beach
 Texture Photography Beach

For those that are lucky enough to live by the beach, there are many texture photography opportunities waiting. Three of the primary opportunities at the beach are: rock, driftwood, and sand.

Rock: Not all beaches have rock. Some are miles of smooth sand. However, when a beach does have rock, the rock often has very interesting texture. Some of the best photo opportunities can be found with rock that is submerged at high tide but uncovered at low tide. This type of rock is heavily worn by wave action. The softer parts of the rock have been eroded away while the harder rock is left.

The key is to find interesting patterns in the rock texture and emphasize that in the photos. The timing for this type of photography is bit of a pain. Obviously, these shots need to be taken at low tide. In addition, the sun should be low on the horizon in order to emphasize the rock texture. Consequently, it is necessary to check both the tide tables and the sun rising and setting times.

Driftwood: Driftwood can make some incredible images. The wood has a grain which has been eroded by the wave action. This can provide great texture. In addition, the wood will likely be wet which can further enhance the contrast of the texture.

As with much of texture photography, side light works well with driftwood. One of the nice things about driftwood is that it can be repositioned to take advantage of the sidelight.

Wet Sand: Due to wave action, the sand will have patterns. It is just a matter of finding some interesting ones. Usually, the best opportunities can be found at low tide. If the sand doesn't show any interesting patterns, just wait until after the next wave and look again.

Photographing the sand during a colorful sunset can add intense, saturated color to the sand for even better images.

While at the beach, don't make the mistake a photographer friend of mine made. He set his camera on a tripod and turned his back to the ocean for a few moments. When he turned back, he discovered his camera equipment had been washed into the ocean by an unexpectedly large wave.


Figure 2: Desert
Texture Photography Desert

When looking to capture texture images, the desert is a prime location. Texture can be found in the plants, animals, and rock of the desert.

Rock is probably the easiest to photograph. Rock with bands of alternating color works well as texture photography subject matter. This type of image is best shot in the late afternoon. However, if there are surrounding mountains, one can not shoot too late or the rock will be cast in shadow after the sun disappears behind the mountains. Consequently, the best light usually occurs when the sun sits just above the mountains. This will give the warmest light and the longest shadows.

Also, it is best to have a contrasting sky. Often, the deepest blues in the sky can be found opposite the direction of the sun. This is due to Mie scattering which adds white light to the sky (thus, desaturating the sky). The closer to the sun an area of sky is, the greater the Mie scattering.

One last point, don't forget to try a polarizer. A polarizer can often help to saturate the color of the rock and the sky. However, the affect of a polarizer varies depending on the angle of the lens with respect to the direction of the light. Polarizers are most effective when the lens is perpendicular with respect to the sunlight. This should be taken into account when positioning the camera for a shot.


Figure 3: Animals
Texture Photography Animals

Animals can also provide some texture photography opportunities. Often, the animal's fur, feathers, or scales provide the texture.

Wildlife photography is such a broad category of photography that it is difficult to give specifics for photographing animals -- especially in a short article. Instead, it is hoped that this will help you generate some of your own ideas for wildlife, texture images.


This article series has covered only a small fraction of the texture photography opportunities that are available. Now, it is time to go out and identify some of your own.


Texture Photography -- Part 2