It wasn’t too long ago that Judy Knesel’s work graced our pages with her photo, Flowers on the Porch. Once again, I must introduce you to Judy and her work – this time, a photo shown here titled Cymbals. The photo is fantastic in that it shows us how such simple objects can become such beautiful compositions through the lens with some creative lighting, composition and the use of depth of field. The subject (or subjects, as it were) is something familiar to all of us: Cymbals, possibly part of a drum set or a display at a music store. Everyone has seen these in some form or another, but I’m sure we never really thought about how beautiful they can be – in the right context. I share this photo with you today to speak about two specific building blocks of composition: Pattern and Texture.
Typically, when we think of Pattern, we think of a definable pattern. Something regular or consistent like bricks in a wall, or the checkered pattern of a chess board. In its strictest of definitions, a pattern would have to be a rigid repetition of a shape or form. But in the world of creative vision, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Pattern doesn’t need to be regular. Pattern doesn’t need to be organized, nor does it need to be repeating the exact same shape. In Judy’s photo, there are several kinds of cymbals – different shapes, different sizes, even different finishes. But they all serve the same purpose – both musically and visually. These are a representation of a symbol (note the spelling) that is transfixed in our brains. And therefore, we consider them to be one in the same, despite the subtle differences between them. So pattern doesn’t have to be so rigid. It can be free flowing and less defined. The rules don’t have to be so inflexible.
Texture is an essential element to almost any photograph. Even if the texture isn’t the focus of the photograph – even if it’s not prominent – texture is important. It’s what makes things feel real. Early computer generated (CG) graphics never felt real to us – because the texture was not perfect. Recent technologies have allowed CG renderings that – though stylized – make us believe we can really grab something off the screen and feel it. In photographs, we have the same emotional attachment to texture. Though the cymbals in Judy’s photograph are only a 2D representation, we know these objects are real because of the textures. The use of depth of field provides one aspect – the bokeh provides a texture that clues us into the relative size of these items. The light cast on each cymbal clues us in to the finish on each plate. Most of these are polished to the point that they are highly reflective. Others are more dull, indicative of a grooved surface or an unfinished surface. The lighting – side lighting- is used effectively to show us these subtle details.
So I challenge you to create some pattern and texture centric photographs that bend the rules in much the same way as Judy Knesel’s Cymbals. Patterns don’t have to be so well defined, and textures can help provide more information than you’d initially think. So explore, and capture some compositions. Than make sure to post them to the SP @ Flickr Group.
Thanks again to Judy for being a contributing member of the group and for being an inspiration to us all.