One of the things I like about year-long (daily or weekly) photo projects is the record that gets left behind. After several attempts at the grind, a participant will usually experiment with a specific aspect of their photography. It’s fun to watch how a photographer tweaks their approach between shots, or how they grow through the process. As an educator, I have a great appreciation for these times where someone focuses on one specific aspect of their work. This week, I’d like to introduce you to the textures that have been uncovered and documented through Colin Bugella’s photo project.
Texture is very appealing as subject matter for photographers. Texture is, of course, everyone in this world, and it’s an easy subject to find. But easy to find doesn’t mean easy to compose. First, one has to find interesting textures worthy of a photo frame. Then one needs to figure out the best way to present such textures. Questions start to arise when working when texture is the dominant subject in a frame: Where should the texture element fit into the frame? Is one area of the texture more dominant than another? Where will other elements fit into the frame? And how do we make the texture appealing to the viewer?
These questions all result in a complex problem – one that is challenging and difficult to work with. But that’s part of the appeal. As photographers, we’re problem solvers. But it sometimes helps to have some inspiration, and that’s why I brought Colin’s work here to you today.
In Untitled and 36 of 365, Colin has chosen to work in black and white to show us the many textures in a woodland – from the shaggy bark to the delicate compound leaves of a nearby fern. With the right amount of bokeh, even massive trees and their branches can create a nice background texture. Both photos were shot from very close to the trunk. This offers perspective and scale – you can see the trunks tapering away off to a distant unseen point. But the framing also gives us a good feel for the texture itself. Taken from a distance, the texture might look flat, the bark not nearly as shaggy. With 23 of 365, Colin takes to the sky – literally – and plays the earthen texture of the evergreen trees to the crumbling, cloudy sky. The sunset helps to gradate the sky from a warm sunny shade out through the cool blue sky. It also throws the trees into silhouette, which helps to emphasize their texture.
Rarely will you find a well-composed photo featuring texture as its only subject. Such a composition is not for the weak of heart. I’m dramatizing of course, but texture work can bea love/hate relationship. If you’re a texture fan, I suspect a lot can be learned from Colin’s photos shown here – plus several others found in Colin’s photostream.