Saturday, May 31, 2008

Photography and texture

As I continue my quest to understand photography, I think about texture.

I love texture, be it cable knitting or admiring the bark of a tree. I love patterns. I think my sense of touch is the primary way I interact with my surroundings. If I can touch a thing it feels real to me, much more so than if I just look at it. This is why I love kneading bread and feeling the texture change from a moist, coarse dough to something smooth and elastic. It's why I cannot eat foods with a certain texture (like mushrooms, eggplant, or zucchini), no matter how they taste. It's all about the sense of touch and how to capture this sensation in a photograph.

Here is a photograph I took of a barn near Whippletree Junction.

I took it with a slight optical zoom (I've been told that optical zooms maintain better depth of field than digital zooms) and I think it makes a very nice photo. The barn has naturalized so it doesn't stand out much from nature, in fact the charm is that it fades into the trees a little bit. The texture of the wood panels of the barn is almost lost among the texture of the trees. The upright boards are echoed by the upright tree trunks, and the roof is very similar to the canopy. The colour is different enough to know that the barn is distinct from the trees, but it doesn't shout.

So I got out the old photo studio and made the photo gray-scale.

There is a stronger sense of divide between the barn and the background, especially now that the roof pops out at you. But still, the barn still attempts to fade into the background.

Here's another photo I took of the same barn, only with a slightly stronger zoom.

This time the barn takes a much stronger role in the photo. The texture of the barn in this photo is more distinct from the trees. I think the difference is that the barn is in the foreground whereas before it was more than halfway into the distance.

One of the most interesting textures I've come across lately is this albino seaweed at Rathtrevor Park.

It's so very photogenic. Here is a photo with bit of regular coloured seaweed next to the albino.

Now watch what happens when we lift it up and allow the wind to play with it.

The shadow against the sand is amazing.

It's like a beautiful lace scarf. This is what I want to be able to capture every time I take a photo of texture. I want to be able to highlight the depth and the empty spaces. I want to make a photo that would elicit the same emotional responce as if you were touching the object. I think, more than anything else, that last photo, where we only see the shadow, does that more than any other. Somehow by taking away the object and by making light the main focus of the photo, we learn more about the object itself.

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