Texture

Revealing the texture in the surface or surfaces of your subject helps to make a two-dimensional photograph look three-dimensional. Texture also adds character to what might otherwise be just flat-looking slabs of tone and color, helping to give your subject form and substance. A multitude of different and interesting textures exist all around us. Rough wood (Figure 5.3) or stone comes immediately to mind, but look also at the texture of ploughed earth, plants, ageing people's faces, even the (ephemeral) texture of wind-blown water. Or even in rugged landscapes, distant hills and mountains, as these represent texture on a giant scale.

There are two essentials for emphasizing texture. One is appropriate lighting, the other is the ability to resolve fine detail (e.g. accuracy of focusing, no camera shake, or a light recording material without a pattern of its own). Where the subject's textured surface is all on one plane, direct sunlight from one side will separate out the raised and hollowed parts. The more the angled light just grazes the surface, the greater the exaggeration of texture.

Such extreme lighting also tends to leave empty black shadows - if these are large and unacceptable, pick a time when white cloud is present in other parts of the sky, and so able to add some soft 'fill-in' light. When your subject contains several textured Figure 5.3 The angled lighting skimming across the old oak barrels not only visually describes the form of the barrels, but also shows off the wood's texture.

Figure 5.4 The repeated design of the crates in this photograph has produced an informal pattern of texture, shape and color.

surfaces shown at different angles, the use of harsh lighting from one direction may suit one surface but lights others flat-on or puts them totally in shadow. More diffused, hazy sunlight (but still steeply directed from above or one side) will then give the best results. What you can learn from sunlight can also be applied on a smaller scale, working with a lamp or camera flash, in the studio.

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