November 25, 2008

Texture Tips

Textured: Mossy Rusty Woody Rocky Moldy


Photo and post by Lisa Bettany

50mm, f/4, 1/80, ISO 200.

Lurking around every corner is texture. You may not notice them upon first glance, but if you take a closer peek in the crooks and crannies of your neighbourhood, you will find a whole world of excellent textures to capture: Mossy rocks, rotting wooden fences, rusty hinges, chipped paint on window sills, and corrugated metal doors. It’s out there just waiting for you to shoot! And unlike people and animals, mossy rocks sit still for hours with little to no complaints

You’ll want to shoot in the early morning or during magic hour (one hour before sunset) to get the best light for showing texture. Great light will help define the surface texture and bring out all the little details. Get up really close with a macro lens and magnify the subtle flaws of the texture. Or conversely, look for patterns in the flow in the texture on a larger scale. Think of the patterns created by hundreds of roof shingles, or miles of rippled sand. If the texture is part of a larger scene like the rippled sand, try shooting a wider frame like the shot below. The contrast of the different textures makes the photo dynamic.

Framing contrasting textures together, i.e., blades of grass breaking through a heavy concrete wall, can also provide an extra thematic layer to your photos.

PS. Don’t be afraid of trying different angles, especially low ones, using different lenses, and experimenting with composition.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

Join the conversation! 0 Comments

  1. Great post Lisa. I’ll add that lighting from an oblique angle can often enhance textures. This is especially important when photographing architecture with textured surfaces. Since you invited me, here is a recent photograph to text the minimum focusing distance of a few lens. The photograph focuses on texture.

  2. Great article! I discovered this ‘level’ of photography some time ago on my own to use the shots as wallpapers on my Mac. Some of my texture shots on flickr

  3. Your example reminded me of one of my favourite lyrics ever:

    The Grass is breaking through
    It’s just a blade or two
    Up through the concrete
    And my angel smiles
    There’ll be a green field
    In a little while
    Seems like we’re asking too much
    From one little child….

    But I only had the song on tape and I haven’t seen a tape player for, like five years, now I want to hear the song. Gah. Thanks a lot.

  4. Great passionate article, totally agree with your approach to textures. Great shot there btw, the reds and greens on opposite ends are a great balance to the shot!
    Here’s also a really old colonial door shot in Seville – Spain:
    At the right address

    Thanks for the post!

  5. Awesome post! Very good point about the different angles. Too many people are anchored to their tripod at eye level. Get low! Crawl around! I found this at Point Lobos shooting low to the ground. “Entrance to the Stones in Concert”

  6. Texture is great, almost everything is a texture in some way or another. trying to focus on the texture is a great way to see things differently.


  7. oh wow I just read that on your blog i love it. good stuff

  8. I guess I’ve taken some nice looking textures, technically good photos too, but I don’t really get any pleasure out of my own work.

    I think I’m looking at things wrong. Should I be looking at the photos in the same way as any other framed image? or does most of the appreciation come from a kinesthetic enjoyment of the roughness of the timber? contrast of the colours?

    Or would seeing them as scrapbooking backgrounds, or in terms of graphic design elements change things for me?

  9. Try a HDR, using Photomatix’s detail enhancer, to really enhance textures.

  10. I completely agree – once you start looking, texture is always just around the corner. I spent almost an hour with my macro lens in front of a peeling advertisement painted on a brick wall. This one was taken next to our house. Now it is all sanded and painted:


  11. @everyone — thanks! Glad you liked the post!

    @Bryan — if you aren’t enjoying textures then maybe it just isn’t your thing. But if you just need something to perk your interest again, try taking a series of shots with a theme, such as “rusty things” or metal textures, or a “red” colour series.

  12. Yes, I take a LOT of photos like these as well, in my travels around Tokyo, mostly. Here’s one.


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