Tag Archives: depth

The Texture Trap

Part of the beauty of a rose is the color.  But, the texture of a rose is often overlooked,  Through the use of black and white photography techniques we view this flower in yet another of its beautiful forms.

When dealing with composing a black and white picture for texture your adept to run into the issue of the texture trap. The trap is allowing the texture you are showcasing to completely dominate the picture. Texture is a needed element in any work of art, but too much texture can quickly turn the best masterpiece into a slurred mess of harmony and scale.

The old painting masters use to a sense of color coördination in their landscape masterpieces to give a sense of texture. The foreground would often be painted with close examination to detail to allow the viewer to place himself or herself in the picture.  A master would then paint a midground to present a color gradient to link the foreground to the background. That gradient is what gives the painting such a great sense of depth.

In photography we control this with depth of field.   That wonderful tool that allows the photographer to focus on the foreground in perfect clarity while allowing the camera to blur ever so slightly the midground and fully blurring the background. This depth of field allows us to control out textures by allowing us to simplify and unite the any complex textures into a smoother blended texture as the picture becomes more out of focus.  

One of the difficulties when dealing with texture in photography is that the relative size of the texture will often distort the sense of scale. When I was working on this rose I did not want the rough texture of the front petals to distract from the dramatic effect that the layering of the petals gives the shot.

Just like with the color, I also wanted to take a minimalist approach to size of the rose. Against the blackness of the background, the rose commands attention of the eye. It registers with your eyes and draws you to the center.   But this effect does not act alone to get the result I wanted.

The change in texture found on the rose itself helps draw the eye where I want it to go. The texture in the Rose picturefront and top of the rose is different from the back and bottom petals. Even though the rough texture remains relatively constant from front to back, the outside petals and fringe allows for the black background to hold the viewer’s attention to the rose.

By not having the rose so close and allowing this perceptual depth, I’m able to use the size of the background to hold the texture on the top petals of the rose in check.

Why would I want it in check? I just stated I was using the texture of the rose to draw the viewer’s eyes where I wanted them to go. This seems like a contradiction, but truly it is not. By minimizing the texture of the rose with the size of the background I don’t allow the texture to gain more influence than I want. I’m trying to use space to influence the texture. So the texture doesn’t dominate the scale in the picture like the result you would get by taking a closer macro shot.

As I continue to photograph more and more I am always astonished on how complex good composition easily becomes. The blending of the various elements to create a visual representation of what we wanted reality to be. Hopefully by watching your depth of field, you will avoid the texture trap of allowing to many textures from dominating your shots.


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