Creating vs Recording Photography Series – Part 1:
Let’s begin by considering how texture impacts your senses. The sense of taste registers texture – think of a creamy milkshake or a crunchy potato chip. Our sense of touch perceives texture. Remember the softness of your favorite childhood blanket or the scratchiness of a wool sweater against your skin? Our eyes also understand texture, and we have an emotional response, just as real as the soft blanket or the mouth-feel of a creamy shake.
Texture in photography can give the illusion of dimension. It can trick the mind to think of hardness or softness. It can convey a sense of motion, as in fast running water over a rock. Emphasizing texture in your image is one graphic design tool that strengthens your composition, and therefore holds the viewers’ attention longer.
Texture is often combined with other graphic elements, but it can be the subject of your image. Visualize photographing a close shot of peeling paint on the side of an old house. If the color of the house is interesting, then your subject may become the color and the texture of the peeling paint. But for the sake of demonstration, let’s concentrate on the texture.
In your mind’s eye, convert that same composition to black and white. What is the subject? The texture of the peeling paint (and perhaps the texture of old wood under the paint). What’s the viewer’s emotional response? A sense of aging, neglect, sadness, or poverty? Maybe the curls of paint are feathery and thin, communicating light and soft. Or “don’t touch” may be the sense if the curls are thick with sharp edges.
When shooting for texture to show motion, consider your shutter speed and your exposure. A shutter slower than 1/30th will diminish the texture, while a shutter speed over 1/30th will add texture, but too fast and the motion will be frozen, showing no motion. The human eye has a “shutter speed” of 1/30th. Consider how that works with the speed of motion of the subject, such as water.
Exposure also lends itself to effects of texture in your image. Overexposure takes away the highlights, thus losing contrast and details. Underexposure will do the same. Neither outcome is desirable to emphasis texture. As needed, compensate for exposure mistakes in post-processing, but it’s always desirable to use your histogram and get the image in-camera.
Here are examples of our images that either demonstrate texture as the subject or the texture serves to enhance the subject. What is your response to each image?
Coming up in our next issue…. How to Create with Color