A Beginner’s Guide to Texture Photography

12/06/2020 6:15 am

One of the best things about photography is that it allows you to focus on everyday elements that you might not notice otherwise. From blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments in nature to the interplay of light and shadow and unique details and textures, photography is a way to capture small, everyday things and elevate them into art. 

Naturally, some of these things are harder to photograph than others. Capturing accurate texture in photos, for example, is something that many beginner photographers struggle with - in spite of the fact that every subject we photograph is textured in some way. Whether you’re hoping to capture the craggy side of a mountain, smooth planes of a model’s face in portrait photography, or the choppy surface of water, read our top tips for texture photography below.

1. Carefully consider sharpness


Using textures in photography is a great way to emphasise the detail and unique character of your subject - provided everything is clear and in focus. When photographing textures, even the smallest movement of your hands can shift the focal point of your shot and diminish your image, meaning it’s important to hold the camera as still as possible.


Whether you’re testing out food texture photography indoors or are shooting on location, the best way to achieve this is to mount your camera on a tripod. For super-sharp photos, we recommend considering a remote control to fire off your camera. 

Top Tip: The Autofocus mode on most modern digital cameras will ensure a sharp result, but don’t be afraid to try your hand at manual focusing if your camera is struggling to focus on your subject.

A beginner's guide to texture photography

2. Use the right camera settings

A beginner's guide to texture photography



When it comes to texture photography, it’s important to choose the correct camera settings and lens. The best camera lenses for photographing texture have an aperture of around f5.6 or f8, which will help you achieve edge-to-edge sharpness. This is particularly handy if you’re shooting a flat surface, such as a textured wall, directly.


You won’t need to worry about shutter speed if you’re using a tripod, since it will limit any camera shake. However, you will need to make sure your exposure is accurate. To do this, take a look at the histogram of your camera, which will show you if any highlights are blown out. If so, this means that no detail is being captured in these areas - something that can’t be undone in post-production, no matter how good your photo editing skills are.

3. Choose suitable gear



Before you dive straight into close up texture photography, set yourself up for success by gathering the right photography gear. In theory, textures can be photographed with any camera, but you’ll have the most success using a camera that can be adjusted manually, such as a mirrorless or DSLR camera. Ideally, you want to be able to choose the best aperture and shutter speed combination to capture your texture accurately.

In terms of lenses, your required focal length will vary depending on your subject matter. In general, however, ultra wide angle camera lenses are to be avoided, as they may cause image distortion. Instead, we recommend a 50mm prime lens, which typically yields sharp photos with minimal distortion, and has the added bonus of being very affordable.

A beginner's guide to texture photography

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4. Find the perfect light

A beginner's guide to texture photography



Lighting can make or break texture in photos, so scout your shoot location carefully and be strategic about the time of day you choose to shoot at. The right lighting will vary depending on what you want to photograph: Some textures benefit from the added dimension created by shadow and overhead lighting, while others shine in diffused light caused by cloudy and overcast conditions.


For best results, consider the particular textures you want to photograph and the lighting conditions that might suit these best, then plan your shoot ahead of time.

Top Tip: Shooting indoors? Portable LED lighting kits can produce daylight-balanced light and imitate sunlight when placed next to your subject.

5. Use contrast


One of the most effective ways to emphasise the texture of something is to place it alongside another object with a contrasting texture. For example, if you want to highlight the smoothness of your model’s skin, try having them stand against a rough surface such as a concrete wall.


Playing with contrasts such as smooth and rough, light and dark, and hard and soft is a great way to add complexity to your images and maximise visual impact. Plus, the more often you practice this photography technique, the better and more natural you’ll get at finding pairs that create an effective, aesthetically pleasing contrast - meaning less work on every shoot!

A beginner's guide to texture photography

6. Tweak your images in post-production

A beginner's guide to texture photography



No matter how much of a photography purist you are, some form of post-production retouching or editing is essential to a polished, finished image. Using your favourite photo editing software, experiment with settings such as contrast, curves, and saturation, tweaking each until you get the effect that best emphasises your texture.


The key here is to make small, incremental adjustments and take careful notes of their effects: The last thing you want to do is go overboard. As a finishing touch, don’t forget to tweak the sharpness level so that your photograph really stands out on screen and in print.

7. Always be on the lookout



A great thing about texture photography is that it’s easy to practice anywhere, and at any time: After all, textures are everywhere. The trick is learning how to identify them and frame them in a way that makes them stand out and complement your image - even if they’re not the main focal point.

For example, if you’re on a landscape photography excursion, you may notice some gentle, running water that contrasts with the sharp ridges of the surrounding rocks that you’re trying to photograph. While the water may not be the key focus of your shot, including some of it in the frame will make the rocks appear even more striking and rugged. 

A beginner's guide to texture photography

Experiment with close up texture photography

While there are plenty of ways to add depth and character to your images, using textures in photography is an effective photography technique that’s suitable for beginners and pros alike. Capturing complex, detailed textures is a fantastic way to highlight the unique features of your subject, and to add drama and visual flair to your finished shot.


Feeling inspired to enhance your photography skills? Try your hand at texture photography, or visit our blog for more handy photography tips and tricks today!


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