Assignments Blog

Nov 25th

Assignment Nineteen: Texture

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Lighting for Texture.

When we want to show texture on something, we need to show highlights and shadows and a direction of light. Texture is revealed more with lighting than anything else.

Front light removes texture, as it eliminates shadow, or creates a more “Flat” look to the light.  We want to show a lot of texture in this image, so we are probably not going to use flat, front light.

Our light is probably going to come from the side, or perpendicular to the subject plane and at a wide angle from the camera. Texture is revealed that way, as the highlights form on anything sticking up, and that then creates a shadow on the other side.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Here is Anca on large rocks near Superior, Arizona.


The light is behind me, and you can see that the texture of the rock is minimized because the sun fills every crevice but the large, deep ones. Understand that I love this light, but it is not the kind of light we need to show texture. We need to see each tiny bump and ridge with highlights on them.


With the sun slightly behind and to camera right, we can see how much texture there is on the rocks. Notice even how much more shape Anca shows with highlights and shadows on arms and legs. This highlight/shadow defines shape. Compare with the lighting on Anca above.

How do we achieve textured light?

  • Hard light can create a very bright highlight/shadow side.
  • Small sources are hard lights
  • Side light.
  • Top light on vertical subjects like walls and sides of barns are side lit to the camera
  • No fill

In this still life, a coil of rough rope, the texture is quite defined.


There is no doubt that this is rough, very textured rope. The light is coming from behind, and above the rope. That actually means it is side lighting the rope with the same angle as if it were to the side of the subject.

This close up shows how the highlights and shadows reveal the texture and give context to the rough feel of the rope.


Note how each strand has its own highlight and shadow. The complexity of having that many highlights/shadows is what gives the over all texture to the subject.


Your assignment is to shoot some texture… with a purpose. Not just a wall, but a subject that inherently has texture. And you will reveal it even more with the lighting you choose – natural or artificial.

Subject textures we are not accepting: shiny or wet… this is for rough, hewn and detailed texture.

Genre specific means people shooters shoot people, and still life / food folks do that. Architectural folks can as well do their thing.

IMPORTANT: Think big shot. A detail of a brick is mailing it in. A wall in the sun is a grab shot. MAKE this image, and please spend the appropriate time on this assignment. I would love to see us keep the bar higher and higher.

Texture: a “big” shot, well thought out, and amazing.

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