Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Photography tips: bring out texture

Texture, unwanted as it may be by the ageing model, can bring pictures to life. Whether you are photographing food, objects, landscapes or character portraits, bringing out the texture in your pics adds to their realism. Bringing out texture by (over)sharpening in post procesing is bound to lead to disappointing results. Good lighting is much more effective and will make your viewers want to reach out and touch your pictures.

To understand how light affects texture in your pictures, you must first realize that texture basically consists of differences in hights. Take an orange for example. The skin of an orange is smooth, but is has tiny little holes all over. Now let’s light the orange from the front. The light will fill all the little holes and we will not (well, hardly) be able to see them. If we light the orange from the side however, all the little holes will be filled with shadow, and therefore show up as dark spots.

It is as simple as that: light straight from the front: almost no texture. Light from the side: vissible texture. That’s why ring flashes are so usefull in model photography. They give light straight from the front of the lens and hide most of the texture in the model’s skin better than any post processing can. But in most other type of photographs, we do want texture. So if you want some detail in your landscape shots, keep the sun to the side (which emphasizes the effect of polarizers as well, see last week's article). When you are shooting a character portrait of your grandpa, place him with one side to the window. For food photography, use at least one light source from the side to bring out the texture of the food. And for pictures of your furry pet, well, I think you know by now.

You can vary the amount of texture in two ways. With a single light source, turn your light source around the subject from front (little texture) to side (a lot of texture). If you can not move the lightsource, turn your subject. If you have more light sources available, use one from the front and one from the side and vary their relative strength (we will have an article on lighting ratio shortly) and see what happens. Experiment untill you are pleased with the result.

More resources
Using light to create texture in your photography
The importance of texture
5 ways to make your texture photos pop

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