Friday, March 18, 2011

Textures a la Haley

In keeping with Jen's Monday post on texture photographs, I've decided to investigate texture in my own work.  However, this will be quite the different post from Jen's, since texture is not something I often actively seek out when I have a camera in my hand.  Also, my still life photography is limited, as again, it's not usually my thing.  Thus, this post will be less of the texture study that Jen's post was and more of texture quest.  So break out your coconuts and follow me as I find textures in my existing photos and contemplate it's affect and overall contribution to the photo.  *clippity clop clippity clop*

Ruby Slipper
Okay, so I lied; I do, in fact, have a still life photograph that emphasizes texture.  This was taken shortly after I received my latest camera, a Sony Cybershot 1080 (who, le gasp, lacks a name and is thus exceedingly jealous of Jen's Ernst), which has a fantastic macro setting if you have a steady hand.  In fact, I tend to shoot most of my photos in macro as I find it adds a detailed clarity.  

But to return to the photo at hand, this is one of, maybe, three photos I've taken in which I was actively including texture as part of my compositional thought process.  I really loved the contrast between the textures of the satin ribbon detail and the suede body of the slipper. The shine of the satin fabric as well as the visible lines of its weave enable us to visualize the feel of the ribbon - it's odd duality of smooth and rough.  Meanwhile the suede seems so much smoother and softer compared to the boldness of the ribbon.  The ribbon stands out more in the composition, which subtly enhances the texture of the suede by contrast.  This photo relies on the texture of the fabrics to become visually interesting.  Without the texture, the shoe would become a drab and boring subject, failing to stand out in any significant way.  The photo might still have been nice, but it is the texture that elevates the photo from nice to good.

Seagreen Shells
And now for something completely different!  Shells.  I love shells.  The beach is nice, but shells are my real favorite.  That's what inspired me to take this shot on a trip to Gulf Shores in December of 2009. One of my favorite aspects of this picture is the color; the seagreen tones really pop out of the photograph.  Color tends to attract my photographic eye when taking pictures.  And yet, when I gave this picture a second look, I see that a lot of what makes it visually interesting is texture.  The rough, lined backs of the shells contrasts with the shiny smoothness of the colored interior.  It sets up points of dueling interest that engage the viewers eye for a longer period of time.  The rough, almost sharp edges of the shells also add to the natural and organic feel of the photograph, making me want to run my fingers through the bin of shells all over again.

Then there are pictures where texture is not particularly obvious at all, like this one:  

Seagull and the Surf
This is an example of my partiality to nature photography.  When taking this shot I was thinking about not disturbing the bird, timing the photo according to waves, and capturing a shot of the gull with its head down to the water.  

One of my favorite aspects of this photo is the layers it contains.  Our eyes move from the foreground, to level with the birds feet, to the first line of the receding surf, to the larger line of the sea lapping at the beach.  But, when I was sorting through my photo archives with texture in mind, I realized that texture plays an extensive role in this shot.  What distinguishes the different layers if not the texture of the foam of the sea?  First, we have the tiny, distributed bubbles of the foreground.  This is followed by the slightly larger bubbles (almost like soap on hands) of the second layer. And lastly, we reach the foamy froth of the final layer and the rolling water of the sea behind it. 

While I doubt that texture studies will ever hold the fascination for me that it does for Jen, thinking about how texture can passively add to any photograph has certainly made me look at my work a little differently.  I find new appreciation alongside some old favorites.

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