Monday, September 23, 2013

A Contemplative Look at the Visual Elements - Texture

   The last of the visual elements is texture.   In photography, texture is only implied.  The paper is smooth.  Contrast enhances the illusion of texture in a photograph and low, slanted light exaggerates it.  Rough or smooth or anywhere in between, texture animates the surface of objects.  We experience it in the photograph because it is known to us through our day to day lives.  We've all felt the smooth skin of a child or the coarse sand on a beach.  Texture is tactile.  For most of us, we often think in terms of "rough" wood or "soft" skin.  Things we know how they would feel if we touched them.  But texture can be so much more than that.

   What does all this mean to the contemplative photographer?  For me, texture often comes into play  through juxtaposition. Putting a wrinkled, weather hand on a smooth white apron.  It seems to amplify both.  But I must say I love the idea Kim Manley Ort raised in her recent post on texture.  She describes texture as a symbol of communities and relationships.  Read it here.  Interesting thought.  After all, textures are a repetition of lines or dots that taken together "feel" rough or smooth, a community of like elements.  I thought of this old photograph I made back in 2005 on Harris in the Western Isles.  I certainly wasn't thinking of "community" when I made it.  I was thinking of repetition and pattern but seen in the light of Kim's post it gives me a whole different range of possibilities to explore.

    That's what happens.  Over time we can re-visit old images and see them in a whole new light as we expand our visual vocabulary.  From now on, thanks to Kim's post, I will forever see texture as community!

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