Texture photography is one of the most unique and fascinating rules of composition.
You can find texture in photography scenes pretty much in every spot. In nature or in an urban landscape, you can find textures that you can use to highlight the details of a surface. Texture photography can be combined creatively as a compositional element together with other elements like diagonal lines.
In this easy guide, you will learn all about texture in photography, what it is, and how to capture amazing photos using texture.
What Exactly is Texture in Photography?
A texture is the qualitative feel of an object or a surface. In texture photography, we describe the physical feel of a photographed subject. It represents details that can convey a message of how some objects physically feel.
Texture can be seen through different tones, shapes, patterns, and color depths and should show a high level of detail. Texture is essential when you want to bring life and vibrancy into your photographs, giving the viewer the clear sensation that moments and objects are captured in their natural state. Texture is one of the single most important elements to a photograph. Every detail in texture gives the overall perception of a photo.
Photographs without texture can seem a bit dull and flat, almost boring. In fact, texture in photography is also used to create depth and show different emotions and creativity levels.
Unfortunately, you lose depth and texture when photographed objects are overexposed. The same happens when you shoot in very dark environment (underexposed photos). Shadows enhance the texture of a photo by providing depth and dimension. You want to have shadows but you need to ensure you’re using light to your advantage.
Texture photography is technical. Anyone can take a picture, but understanding the camera settings, knowing what light is best for capturing the most detail, or what equipment to use are all the pieces to an incredible image.
How to Capture Texture?
Let’s discuss how to capture texture using everyday objects. The tips that will be discussed will simplify what I previously stated could be a technical process.
One important factor to always remember, just be creative. Allow yourself to be in the moment and feel. Just like how a musician pours every bit of themself into the words they sing, the listener can feel it. Your passion for what you’re capturing will come forward in those beautiful images, and the viewer will see it.
Experiment with different angles. Depending on how you’re using light and what kind of light, will help determine how to use angles. Some of the best light is natural light. Being outside at dawn or dusk and using the light rays at different angles on your subject or object can make the difference between flat and breathtaking images.
An out of focus photograph will conceal texture on objects. Being sure you have the appropriate lens for the subject your photographing is an important key to remember. Have several lens options in your arsenal, for instance, a macro lens for those close-up shots. Also, consider carrying a wide-angle zoom lens and prime lens. Even if you’re just out walking around to catch some air, or cleaning up toys around the house, there is always an opportunity for a quick photo. Be sure you’re prepared.
Capturing texture in photography means also choosing the right subject. You can play with the texture of a rug and decide to create a completely abstract photo.
If you are trying to capture the calm surface of a lake instead, you’ll have to rethink the composition technique you want to apply since texture might not be ideal.
The Right Kind of Gear for Texture Photography
Besides having the gold mine of lenses and an excellent camera, having a tripod really is a must when capturing texture in your images. I know what you’re thinking, how can I take photos using angles with a tripod. There will be times you want to have your camera still and ensure it’s in focus. Shaky hands and textures definitely don’t mix. It could be an interesting story, though.
These movements shouldn’t significantly impact texture photography, but if you want to avoid it, think about investing in a tripod to reduce camera shakes. To avoid pressing the shutter and eliminate any possible movement, you can set a timer and have completely clear pictures.
Think about investing in a remote, so you can stay away from the tripod if necessary.
If you think you can do without a tripod since you won’t shoot in low light conditions, you can think of buying a camera and lens with good image stabilization.
Texture Photography Camera Settings
One of the other important needs is to have a high f-stop such as f/8 or higher when using a tripod. A small aperture (high aperture number) means you have slow shutter speed. If you have shaky hands, your photos are not going to be of the highest quality. Using a tripod on shoots where texture is being captured creates sharper images.
You can also create beautiful photos without breaking the bank. You don’t have to have the latest photography camera and lenses. Technology has definitely improved, and just using a compact camera, your iPhone or Android, even an iPad can showcase beautiful images.
After finding the best tool, it’s time to find the texture you want to capture and to prepare everything important for this job – good lighting, right camera settings, necessary equipment, and maybe some editing at the end.
Light and Texture
Whatever you want to capture, great light in photography is the key to success. You can have all the equipment, you know all the right settings, but if you don’t have good lighting, your pictures will look unflattering.
Direct light and too much of it can cause an overexposed effect. The same goes when there’s not enough light – underexposed areas don’t play well with texture photography. In dark environments, you’ll need to raise your ISO value, and if your camera doesn’t work well in low light, it will add grain to your photos, which will take away from the texture.
Light can’t be fixed in post-production but try to take your image right in camera. The more time you spend editing your photos, the less, you’ll practice on the field.
To capture the best possible texture photos, you have to find the point between these two extremes. Experiment and play with different light conditions. Go outside at different hours of the day and take some shots. Review and determine which time of day, light, and the right exposure helps create the best photos.
If you’re shooting indoors, you can use artificial lights, depending on the type of photo. You can use different lighting equipment and it doesn’t have to be professional equipment. One thing to remember is with artificial light, it is best to use it at an angle. Direct artificial light exposure can wash out (overexpose) the image, and texture is not visible at that point.
You can improvise your lighting setup with lamps and torches and create DIY diffusers with paper and panels if you don’t want to spend money. DI Y options are always fun and usually easy to incorporate. Pinterest would be a great place to research these ideas.
The Importance of Depth of field
As you’ve learned, the depth of field is connected with aperture. You’ll have to play a lot with the aperture value to get the perfect depth of field for your subject for texture photography.
Like a landscape, a distant subject will require a long depth of field, since you want everything in the scene in focus.
You can use a macro lens with a shallow depth of field to create a bokeh effect for a closer subject. The bokeh effect is, simply put, the pleasing or aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus blur in a photograph. This will bring some diversity and creativity to your texture photo.
Texture Photography Post Processing
Most photographers, regardless of experience and professional level, do edit their images. Editing doesn’t need to happen because your photos’ quality isn’t right. Editing enhances them.
Always shoot in RAW, but don’t mistake that post-processing changes the image entirely. It is the process of adjusting and correcting the image to provide a more realistic photo. Image-manipulation is the process of changing a photo into something completely different from the original photo.
There are many options for post-processing editing software like Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and GIMP. Lightroom is one of the most popular editing software. The image below shows the editing capabilities with just the free downloadable version of Lightroom. Pretty spectacular difference, I must say.
To achieve the best possible results and emphasize texture, play with contrast, clarity, shadows, and black points. Contrast can fix even the dullest surfaces. Clarity will enhance every detail on your photo shadows, and black points will add an atmosphere to your photos. Remember the idea of post-processing editing is to bring realism to the raw image, which in turn creates texture! Realism and texture within an image are two of the core components of a truly amazing image.
However, if you go overboard with editing, you can take away from the texture.
Find more examples of texture photography here.
Create Your Texture Photography Bonus Video
In this video, famous YouTuber Peter McKinnon shows some cool tips to create your own texture in photography. Peter shows his technique to adding a grunge texture on top of different images. He is a master in the photography industry and I highly recommend watching the video since you’ll learn a lot in just a few minutes.
Texture Photography Examples
After everything we have typed out in the article, I want to show you examples of texture in images and how amazing it can make even the simplest objects look. Here are some examples of texture photography I selected for you from Pexels.
Texture Photography in Wildlife
Animals offer a perfect subject for this type of composition. To capture these furry creatures, make sure you use a telephoto lens because, as we all know, they are wild, of course. Be creative, and don’t underestimate the power of a black and white photo.
Texture in Portraits
The feathery texture of eyelashes and the beautiful age lines of a well-aged individual is, in my opinion, incredibly beautiful to capture. Portraits can offer so many opportunities to showcase creative texturing. The human figure was one of the first and still is one of the most highly photographed objects in the world. Look at these images and think about why that would be.
Texture Photography in Nature
One amazing thing about photography is that the world is literally your canvas at your fingertips. When you look at nature, it is absolutely full of opportunities to showcase texture in your images. Being a landscape photographer myself, nothing brings me more excitement than to bring to life the mist from a waterfall, the glow and flames from a campfire or the strong ridged snow-covered Alps. Everywhere you turn in nature, texture is right in front of you. Using the correct exposure and depth of field can create dazzling photos.
Texture Photography Walls and Doors
Another great option for creating interesting texture is using inanimate objects. Walls, doors, a light bulb or a book are all objects that bring wonder and marvel when photographed.
The last thing to do at this point is for you to go take pictures! Play with different objects, camera settings, lighting, and software. You can really have a lot of fun with texture photography. You can capture texture in so many different contexts, or you can create your own, as you’ve seen from Peter McKinnon’s video.
Review the tips and tricks that were discussed. I challenge you to use them and look at the difference it makes in your images. Comment below and tell us what type of object you photographed and if you used an editing software to create texture. Or did you find your texture muse around you?
Was this helpful? Like and share this article, and look for more to come!
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.