Have you ever heard the term texture photography? Did you wonder what that meant? Recognizing textures in your compositions is important to better your work and make your photos more interesting.
Texture can be found all over the world of photography, and this article will help you to understand better what it is and how to photograph it. We have also included examples of texture in photography and some of the equipment and lighting you will want to consider when upping your texture game. Let’s have a closer look.
Table of Contents
So what is texture photography? When you think of texture in photography, think of a beach with lots of white sand and then big blue waves hitting against the sand or a field of grass leading into the white sand. The texture would be these additional elements.
Textures give surfaces and subjects in your photos more of a physical feel. At the end of the day, photography is all about giving your viewer a look into your world and what you were feeling and seeing in the moment of your shutter click. Capturing texture in photography scenes will help you create this feeling.
Camera Settings and How Depth of Field Changes When Shooting Textures
The camera settings for capturing texture in your photos are pretty simple. Basically, your lenses operate on an f-stop scale. The f-stop can also be called your aperture setting and controls how much of your photo is in focus as well as your bokeh or depth of field. Depth of field controls how much of your background is blurry, and bokeh has become popular in making subjects pop from their backgrounds with blurry backgrounds.
Depending on the type of texture you are photographing, you will want to adjust your aperture. If you have a texture filling your entire composition, you will probably want to set your aperture to f/6 or higher so that more of your texture is in focus. Remember, the higher the f-stop number, the more of your photograph that is in focus.
If you want to create abstract compositions, consider lowering your f-stop number to make one section of your composition more in focus. As mentioned above, this can make one part of your texture pop more as well.
Shutter speed controls the action in your shot. Now, most of your textures will not be moving, but when shooting texture photographs, your images must be as sharp as possible to accentuate and keep textures interesting.
But to make sure you don’t end up with blurry photos or camera shake while photographing textures, it’s important to set your shutter speed to a higher setting or use a tripod.
Anything below a 60th of a second is difficult to shoot handheld. But I recommend setting your shutter speed as high as possible while still giving you the light you need whenever possible. We will talk more about this in the lighting section of texture photography.
Photography is a constant change of exposure. Imagine a balancing act for each picture, carefully adjusting your exposure settings to add or subtract light for every shot. When shooting outdoors, the weather can change quickly. So if you are shooting natural textures, be on the lookout for clouds or a change in the sun’s brightness.
Since we want our textures to be as focused as possible to enhance the visual quality of our images, using external light sources can come in handy. If you are shooting textures indoors, consider setting up a ring light or a softbox or even using a simple flashlight for side lighting.
By changing the angles of your light source, you will produce different shadows and patterns in your textures. This is where you can become more creative, and you can create even more variations in post-production. Make sure your surface is well lit and the detail is easy to recognize. Experimenting with different angles will help the most in these situations.
If you are shooting texture photography with natural light, you will need to pay close attention to the weather changes mentioned above and adjust accordingly. Night-time pictures make capturing textures the most difficult, but who doesn’t love a challenge?
Camera Equipment for Capturing Textures
As mentioned above, movement or camera shake in a texture photo can completely ruin the composition. Set yourself up for success by buying some appropriate accessories. If you haven’t already, invest in a durable tripod.
Tripods work in many photography situations, including night photography but are especially important for textures to keep the details in focus. Some photographers like to take it a step further and invest in a hand-operated shutter release remote.
If you are really serious about photographing textures, this can be a great investment. Lastly, experiment with macro lenses so that your textures pop even more and stay in focus even when you are super close.
Examples of Texture Photography
Now that you have a better idea about how to capture texture in photography, let’s look at some examples and tips for the subject matter. Textures can be found everywhere, including nature and manmade patterns.
Texture in nature is everywhere! Look at the bark of a tree or the soil underneath it. Also, if you live near a water source, consider objects that may wash up on the beach, such as seashells, crabs, seaweed. As a photographer, it’s your job to become a texture detective thinking of out of the box places to find interesting textures in nature. Play around with different ideas and natural locations.
If you live in a big city, searching for textures in architecture is very visual. You can find interest everywhere, including skyscrapers or the pattern of repeating glass. Look at the backgrounds of buildings and patterns in the cobblestone or pavement. Each image should create a different texture look.
Using digital photography, you will feel free to explore different texture ideas because you can shoot each example and then instantly see the results. This is especially fun with abstract textures. Experiment with different lens settings and how far you are from each surface to create abstract images.
For example, a wrinkled bed sheet will look much different from far away than if you get closer and focus on the wrinkles themselves. By creating photographs from different perspectives and playing with aperture settings, you can easily take a picture of abstract textures.
Creating texture in your portrait work is a great way to make them more interesting. When photographing people, look for physical aspects of their face you can enhance—for example, the texture of their wrinkles, hair, or freckles. Look at the detail in the beard or hands. You can even add objects with texture for them to hold or pieces of clothing. Use light to emphasize texture on their face or hair. You can add depth to your images using extra lighting as well.
Make your Own
Have you ever considered making your own texture? It’s easier than you imagine. Try using moving water, painting an abstract photo, or playing with flour and other cooking materials. Look for pattern examples, contrast, shadows, and interesting background options to place your own texture. You can even take a sheet of paper and crumble it to photograph the quality of that surface. Challenge yourself with each image. Remember to play and have fun with all your photographs.
Black and White
Black and white photos make for some of the best texture images. As a photographer shooting in black and white is a great way to better understand how to shoot in general. Black and white images really enhance contrast and details in photos. This is why shooting a texture in black and white will really work well. It will enhance the depth of the texture, and you can create fun highlights and more clarity in digital post-production.
Photography Tips for Editing Textures
So now that you have become an expert in spotting textures in everything from peeling paint to business offices, you need to learn how to use Photoshop and other editing tools to better your texture photography.
When you are editing textures, remember these topics: contrast, black point, shadows, and highlights. When in your photo editing software, really play with those 4 main components to watch the quality of your texture increase.
Depending on the type of texture, you will want to use one more over the other. But you will quickly see the differences through the use of those 4 main editing tools.
Now that you have learned how to use your camera to capture textures, maybe you want to learn even more! We offer a 365 Days Photography Course to teach you everything you need to know to take better photos. Including light concepts, image editing, gear, and how to capture your next vacation or inspiration. Consider signing up today while it’s still on sale.
Also, have a look at our Self-Portrait Course. If you like the idea of shooting texture in portraits, this course is a great way to learn how to photograph interesting textures on yourself or other people.