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What’s texture in photography?

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by David Em
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In photography, texture refers to the feel and appearance of a surface. It can range from your subject’s clothes to the sand in a landscape.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Close-up of a leaf showing its texture.

Texture in photography

The texture in a photo is all about the look and feel of surfaces. It’s important to have texture in your photos because it creates depth and brings an image to life. Without texture, a photo will look dull and flat.

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It’s common to overlook texture when you’re taking photos. While it may seem like a subtle factor, it plays a big role in your images because almost everything in the scene that you’re capturing has texture.

Interesting patterns, different fabrics, natural elements, an animal’s fur, and even a person’s skin are a few of the many parts of an image that shows texture.

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The goal of paying attention to details, such as the texture, is to make the viewer feel like they’re at the scene. Through an image, you can show a viewer what something feels like. That results in a more powerful and striking image.

When you combine texture with good composition and lighting, you’ll end up with a great photograph. Learn what the different types of textures are and how you can capture them in your photos.

Different types

The world is full of texture, so take advantage of it. When you focus on it in your photography, your images will be more interesting and engaging.

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If you need ideas of things that show textures, they’re as follows:

  • Textiles, such as clothing, rugs, or hats.
  • Snow or sand.
  • Buildings, architecture, and walls.
  • Trees, leaves, and plants.
  • Food and drinks.
  • Hair and skin.

Everywhere you look, you’ll find different textures. Start paying attention to the details, and you’ll be able to use them in your photos.

How to capture textures

Several camera settings will impact the textures in your photos. While you may be able to see textures with your eyes, the goal is to capture them with your camera.

Before diving into the camera settings, keep in mind that you can use any camera lens. Yes, there are macro lenses and wide-angle lenses that’ll show beautiful textures. However, all lenses work well in showing texture.

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The only times where you’ll want to use a macro lens are when you’re photographing something small or if the details require a very close-up shot to see everything.

For camera settings, the aperture is one of the most important for capturing texture. A larger aperture, which is also a smaller f-number, results in a shallow depth of field. Meanwhile, a smaller aperture leads to a deeper depth of field.

If you use a shallow depth of field, the majority will be blurry because you’re using a selective focus on a small portion of the photo. Since textures need to be shown with clarity and sharpness, a large aperture isn’t the way to go.

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To capture textures with great detail, use a deep depth of field because a greater portion of the image will be in sharp focus. To use a deep depth of field, use an f-number of f/5.6 or higher. Remember, a larger f-number means a smaller aperture.

Aside from using a small aperture, nailing your exposure is key. Your subject must be well-lit while casting shadows. The combination of light and darkness will emphasize the textures and create depth.

Be careful with lighting because you can easily lose details. If it’s too bright or dark, the details in the textures will get lost in the highlights or shadows. Whether you’re using natural light by shooting outside or artificial light in a studio, take your time with exposure.

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Another aspect to consider is blurriness due to camera shake. When your camera shakes, you’ll lose details in the photo because it’ll be blurry. To combat camera shake, use a tripod, monopod, or a fast shutter speed.

By using the right aperture, eliminating blur, and having the proper lighting, you’ll be able to capture beautiful textures in your photos.

Enhance it in post-processing

After taking the photo, you can take it to your favorite editing software and enhance the textures. When you’re editing an image, don’t overdo it. When editing goes too far, the image can begin to look fake, unnatural, and details may be lost.

Editing features, such as contrast, texture, clarity, sharpness, shadows, and blacks are ways to enhance the texture in your photo. Experiment with different levels of each to emphasize the details.

Conclusion

To effectively capture textures in your photos, you must focus on the details. Exposure is one of the most important aspects because a well-lit image will beautifully show the textures. If it’s too bright or dark, the textures will get lost in the highlights or shadows. Start focusing on the textures when you shoot and watch your photos go to the next level.

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Featured image courtesy of Canva.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

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