Texture is one photographic element that a lot of photographers -- both beginners and advanced photographers -- forget about when creating shots. After all, you can’t “feel” the texture of the subject of your photos on a computer screen or a photo print. The screen or print is always flat and smooth, regardless of the texture of the subject.
Still, texture can provide some interesting looks for your photos, especially if you follow the tips below.
- Use trial and error. Looking for texture can be a little tricky, especially if you've never really done it before when shooting photos. It can be difficult to figure out just what types of textures will look good in a photograph, and which ones will just give the image a muddied look. It will require some trial and error on your part to find the types of textures that you want to use, so try lots of different options.
- Shoot with plenty of resolution. Some textures may be difficult to see in the photo, so you’ll want to shoot at the highest resolution you can, which will give your photo plenty of detail, hopefully making the texture easier to see in the final photo.
- Be careful with color. If the focus of your photo is going to be texture, be sure the colors of your subject don’t overwhelm the texture. Quite a few interesting textures will be colorful, though, so you’ll need to find the right balance between color and texture.
- Adjust the camera's contrast settings. One way to bring out the texture in your images is to shoot with a higher-than-normal contrast. One of the interesting things about texture is the way shadows appear in different areas of the texture. Shooting with a higher contrast setting will help you to emphasize those shadows, which will also make the texture in the image really become noticeable. Similarly, if you have some control over the lighting in the scene, consider adjusting the angle at which it hits the object to change the look of the texture in the scene.
- Don’t mistake pattern for texture. If you’re specifically trying to shoot a texture, don’t make the mistake of confusing a pattern with a texture. In fact, if the subject you’re shooting has a significant pattern, it could detract from the texture of the photo. Try to avoid patterns when shooting textures.
- Don’t limit yourself to man-made items. Although man-made items -- such as rusty metal, concrete, or plastic items -- create easy-to-see texture, don’t forget about rolling clouds, tree bark, or even dirt when looking for interesting textures to photograph.
- Avoid straight-on photos. Shoot the subject from a side angle, and make sure the light is striking the subject at an angle, too. A straight-on shot often will negate the depth of the texture in the final photo. However, by shooting from an angle, you’ll see some of the shadows the light is creating on a textured surface, and those differences between shadows and light will be enhanced if you shoot from a side angle.
- Use different positions. As an addition to the tip about shooting from angles, make sure you try a lot of different positions when shooting. An angle that looks great to the naked eye might not look as good in the final print. If you have shots from a few other positions, however, you may find an angle that will work better. Shooting a variety of photos is especially important for those new to texture photography, as you learn how to use angles.