Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Mayhem: Tantalizing Textures

Never let me use alliterative titles again.  Ever.

So, let's lay out the current plan for SLP's post schedule: we will/should post every Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  I, Jen, will post Mondays, and Haley will post Fridays.  Wednesdays are kind of up in the air at the moment, but the intent is to provide a collaborative post based on a specific photography topic.  Excited?  Of course you are.  Or just pretend you are.

That means you, the viewer, will be able to bask in the splendor of...oh, whatever, I'm tired and need to post.

This Monday's post deals with a study that I'm currently doing: textures.  I'm not really sure why I started doing texture studies, but I did, and the great thing is I get to write a blog post about it.  What had been a silly little pastime in between exciting naps and even more exciting Internet surfing over a lazy Sunday has now developed into a interesting way to develop my attention to detail, along with composition, lines, and how to make seemingly "uninteresting" objects (if such things do exist), such as a cat toy, into something visually curious.

Texture Study: Feather (Feb. 2011)
  The first current study I did concerned the aforementioned cat toy, a feathery little thing that my cat has never played with (aside: if you've seen my Jabba the Hutt of a cat, you'd glean she'd never actually exerted any energy other than meowing at the food bowl).  I had only been puttering around with the camera--named Ernst, by the way--, but I became increasingly more focused on the subject's own detail as I continued to fiddle around with Ernst's settings.  Upon snapping this extreme close-up, I noticed that, aside from the toy's vibrant colors, the texture itself was an intriguing subject, with its lines lending to the feathers' softness.  This brings me to the main point of this post, actually, as many good texture photographs should visually portray the feel of the object while retaining a good composition.  In this photo, the feathers look soft while also remaining aesthetically interesting through use of their fluid lines and the balance of sharpness and blurriness.  Although color is a large focus of a picture like this, the texture of the object causes the toy to stand out.

Texture Study: Purse (Feb. 2011)
Of course, some texture studies are constructed in such a way that it's sometimes difficult to tell exactly the object's identity, which can lend more...interestingness (oh, shut up; I can make up words if I want to because I edit military documents*) to the overall photo.  As seen with this purse study, we know that the texture has something to do with fabric because of the object's visual feel--but the fact that this is a purse doesn't really mean much.  The different directions of the lines within the fabric's squares lends a harsher feel than, say, the cat toy's soft feathers, while also giving the eye a maze of geometric shapes with which to contend.  The overall curvature of the bag also lends interest to the photo's composition, giving the object's visual texture a rough, yet still soft, feel.

Besides, I just like it.

*I don't know why editing military documents gives me permission to invent words, but it does, and I feel very empowered by this.

Texture Study: Blanket (March 2011)
Generally, texture adds an extra dimension to a photo and can contribute substantially to a photo's success.  For instance, if the detail on my grandmother's crocheted blanket, pictured left, had not been as sharp, the overall composition wouldn't really be all that interesting.  However, being able to see the individual stitches in the foremost square allows the blanket to pop out of the photo and looks cozy enough to touch (please don't; apart from "grawr-it's-my-blanket," you'll only muss up your computer screen).  Although it isn't the most captivating photo, it seems to establish a sense of comfort and warmth to the viewer, like most blankets have a habit of doing.  Perhaps that's my own sentiment (although it's kind of a scratchy blanket), but the point is that I can feel the blanket's texture just by looking at the photo.  And that's kind of cool, I suppose.

Using texture to your advantage, be it in portraiture, nature, etc., can transform an otherwise pleasant photograph into something that stands out from the rest, and I've discovered that conducting texture studies causes me to more critically examine texture in more and more photo opportunities.  It's fun.  It's a learning experience.  And it may just save the world.

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