How to Photograph a Texture

Now that you’ve found those wonderful textures you’ll want to know how to capture the best possible image. Although, most of the principles of exposure and composition apply equally well to textures, here are some factors that you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Keep your camera parallel to the surface you are photographing. Of course, you can experiment with other angles, too, but if you are going to use your texture in another photo you will want it to be uniformly sharp.
  • Use the middle f-stops of f/8 or f/11, if your lighting situation permits, unless your texture has deep ridges, in which case you will want to use an f-stop small enough to ensure strong depth-of-field.
  • Side light is best for bringing out the richness of a texture. I like ambient light in my texture photos and often shoot indoors by a side window. Otherwise look for times when the sun is positioned on the side of your subject, and if all else fails shoot in open shade or use a diffuser.
  • Take various shots of an interesting texture — horizontal, vertical, close-in, further away — really work that subject. If your texture is a pattern, watch the edges so that you can capture a pleasing and balanced crop.

Some textures stand alone as wonderful photographs. Others need a little help to engage the viewer’s interest. This usually involves adding a focal point. I often carry little natural items to enhance an image. At other times, I add a little something to the image in post-processing.

Taking a look at the texture I showed you last week, what most drew me to this subject was the tangled web of vines against the deteriorating sideboards of the house on which they were growing. The combination of lines and curves was intriguing and I wondered what the vines were protecting. I also had this feeling of crawling through the crevices…weird, but interesting.

My first decision was to de-saturate the image completely, so that it was now a black and white photo. This helped put the focus on the lines and curves and not the color of the house. Then I needed a focal point. Since the background was pretty complex I wanted something simpler and finally chose a big white daisy flower. I didn’t have one with me in the field, and there was certainly none growing out of the house, so I added one in post-processing, taking care to give it some shadow perspective to match the background. All right, then, here it is:


Wallflower, 8 x 12 inches
© 2008 Fran Saunders

Tell us what you think and how this compares with the original. Do you agree that this one has more compelling interest? Come on back next week when we will talk a little bit about post-processing to bring out the best in a texture.


About Fran Saunders

I am a photographer located on the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland, where I live with my husband and my Yellow Lab, Sam.
This entry was posted in Camera Techniques, My Art, Post-Processing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to Photograph a Texture

  1. Lin Layton says:

    Being a B&W photographer at heart, I love the texture. I’m not an “adder-on” so I wold just show the texture as an abstract. The shodows are gret and you really brought out the grain. Looks great.

  2. I did think about leaving it as an abstract, but my eye kept roving all over the image and not settling in one place, so i wasn’t sure that would work. It’s good to have your opinion on this. Hope others join in! Thanks for commenting, Lin.

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