Using Light to Create Texture in Your Photography

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Have you ever heard people talking about the ‘golden hours’ of photography?

It’s usually described as those hours in and around dawn and dusk (particularly dusk) when the light is warm (golden) and coming in on an angle that makes photographing subjects easier (ie the light is coming in from a low angle which makes it more even on a subject’s face for example).

Some photographers exclusively shoot in these times of the day (for good reason) – however in doing so they could be overlooking other opportunities that midday photography presents us with.

One such opportunity of photographing with the sun high in the sky is the way that it highlights texture on vertical surfaces.

I noticed this for the first time when traveling in Tasmania (the island state off the south eastern coast of the mainland of Australia). Tasmania (or Tassie as we call it) is a wonderful place for photographers due to both it’s landscape but also heritage. I enjoyed photographing the old buildings there and noticed the effect that the midday sun had when photographing them.

With the Sun high in the sky the roughness of the walls of these buildings was accentuated as the light cast small shadows along the wall. While the impact was subtle it added a real texture and point of interest to many of the shots – something I wouldn’t have achieved by shooting in the golden hours.

PS: of course it’s not just overhead light hitting walls (or other surfaces) that can create a sense of texture in a shot. Sidelight and uplight can give a similar impact – here’s some examples:

Texture-LightPhoto s2art

Shadow-TexturePhoto Marcus Ramberg

TexturePhoto scose

Side-Light-TexturePhoto matsugoro

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • AC

    Light on any textured background accentuates the textures by bringing the nooks and crannies into light. These snaps can be better composed with artificial sources of lighting.

  • Michael Seljos

    Sunlight low on the horizon very early in the morning or late in the evening will achieve the same thing. That’s why it is my favorite time to do photography. I often photograph old adobe buildings at this time of day, and the low angled light really brings out nice texture in what I am photographing at those times of the day.

  • Great tip! This is the one good thing about winter. The sun is much lower in the sky, so many more hours of golden time.

  • I like midday shooting when I’m after black and white photos. I find the contrast is much greater and it allows me to pursue photography all the time rather then waiting for the “golden hour”.

  • Learning how to see the light is one of the highest skills a photographer can develop. Nice job on these photos. Showing the texture in a photo always brings more realism and art to it.

    Bob Dale
    Master Photographer
    http://www.howtotakedigitalphotos.com

  • Katie

    I love the picture with the window and blinds.

  • Today it’s my first day on dPS and I have found Great tips and awsome works like the texture created with light in the photos above
    I am a dawn dusk user adict……thanks for this amazing dPS…feel I can’t wait to read more

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  • I love using light like that to create texture. I also have to say you kinda left out creating textures through the use of layers in photoshop. That can be almost just as powerful for adding texture to an otherwise dull photograph.

  • vijayakumar.r

    it’s very interesting topic to learn creating texture using light ,specially the shade of light creating mood & glomour on still pics. please send related inf & thank you

  • eyen amos

    texture is so key this days in photography; its not everytime we need excess smothness- believe you me most times in photography roughness sells. the edgy look is a winner anyday. thanks for this tips dps. what you provide is such a big boost to photo lovers

  • Pingback: 27 FREE Assorted Textures for photoshop | ProdigalConcepts()

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  • Ezra Bryant

    I am still learning light, but street lights can help also.

Some Older Comments

  • Ezra Bryant February 3, 2013 01:47 am

    I am still learning light, but street lights can help also.

  • toyota?????????????? | Toyota Lexus News September 3, 2010 10:54 am

    [...] Using Light to Create Texture in Your Photography [...]

  • 27 FREE Assorted Textures for photoshop | ProdigalConcepts August 7, 2010 04:32 pm

    [...] Using Light to Create Texture in Your Photography [...]

  • eyen amos July 17, 2010 10:46 am

    texture is so key this days in photography; its not everytime we need excess smothness- believe you me most times in photography roughness sells. the edgy look is a winner anyday. thanks for this tips dps. what you provide is such a big boost to photo lovers

  • vijayakumar.r July 8, 2010 07:04 pm

    it's very interesting topic to learn creating texture using light ,specially the shade of light creating mood & glomour on still pics. please send related inf & thank you

  • Denver Photographer June 14, 2010 05:38 am

    I love using light like that to create texture. I also have to say you kinda left out creating textures through the use of layers in photoshop. That can be almost just as powerful for adding texture to an otherwise dull photograph.

  • ??????? « ???? May 19, 2010 02:51 am

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  • jeyc January 4, 2009 08:34 am

    Today it's my first day on dPS and I have found Great tips and awsome works like the texture created with light in the photos above
    I am a dawn dusk user adict......thanks for this amazing dPS...feel I can't wait to read more

  • Katie March 27, 2008 01:19 am

    I love the picture with the window and blinds.

  • Bob Dale January 31, 2008 01:29 pm

    Learning how to see the light is one of the highest skills a photographer can develop. Nice job on these photos. Showing the texture in a photo always brings more realism and art to it.

    Bob Dale
    Master Photographer
    http://www.howtotakedigitalphotos.com

  • Jason van der Valk December 7, 2007 01:55 pm

    I like midday shooting when I'm after black and white photos. I find the contrast is much greater and it allows me to pursue photography all the time rather then waiting for the "golden hour".

  • Rick Blythe December 7, 2007 01:24 pm

    Great tip! This is the one good thing about winter. The sun is much lower in the sky, so many more hours of golden time.

  • Michael Seljos December 7, 2007 06:15 am

    Sunlight low on the horizon very early in the morning or late in the evening will achieve the same thing. That's why it is my favorite time to do photography. I often photograph old adobe buildings at this time of day, and the low angled light really brings out nice texture in what I am photographing at those times of the day.

  • AC December 7, 2007 03:35 am

    Light on any textured background accentuates the textures by bringing the nooks and crannies into light. These snaps can be better composed with artificial sources of lighting.

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