Photo composition – Shape, form, pattern and texture

Photography basically is not just about snapping a picture, scenery or a person and just left it at that. To make it more attractive, you want to convey something distinctive like a shape, form, texture or pattern in the photo. Keep your eyes open in a scene or situation for something interesting looking out for form and shapes, patterns and texture and try to add it in creatively into your photograph.

As a general explanation:
Shape – a two dimensional outline of an object or its representation in an image.
Form – a distinguishable three dimensional image of the subject matter
Texture – the visible surface quality of an object adding character to your picture. Texture can be smooth and shiny like a new car or rough and edgy as in the tree bark or cobble walkway.
Pattern – the regular repetition of several objects; shapes or colours in an ordered or random manner.

For example look out for features in a tree with its gnarly bark and trunk to tell the character of the subject from its texture. You can macro in to emphasis on the texture or stand away to show the texture and tell something about the surrounding background of the item.

Perhaps while in the market, you may see rows and rows of fruits stacked up nicely to provide some interesting pattern. Get in close to concentrate on the pattern arrangement, but do break the monotony by looking for an item that is out of place and place it at side (rule-of-thirds, remember?).

Silhouettes is great for emphasising shapes by making a three dimensional object into a two dimensional shape onto a background scenery. It also makes for a dramatic photo especially against a moody sky. Sunset and sunrise are good opportunity to create interesting silhouettes though you could do it at other times where there is vast contrast in bright and dark areas. You could also create it artificially by placing an object against a background with a light source.

Silhouettes are great and sometimes dramatic way to emphasize shape.
Silhouettes are great and sometimes dramatic way to emphasize shape.

And finally forms are best when there is sufficient lighting to show off the form of an object. Examples like the shape of a rock with shadows that reveals how the contours of the rocks curve about or perhaps its jaggedness stemming from abruptness from the sharp edges. Lights and shadows helps to highlight the form so do watch out for interesting shadows.

You may find a mixture of the above elements in a scene when you do your photography. You can emphasize on one aspect of it or use all the elements in your picture. Just keep your eyes open and your digital SLR camera ready for any of the elements when you looking around to take your picture.

You never know where you might find it. Like late one night in a hotel room while groping my way to the bathroom, I saw an interesting shadow pattern falling over my feet from the bathroom lights filtering through the bathroom door shutters. Half asleep, I reached out for my camera and try get off some shots. It didn’t look half bad.

Making patterns and form on my feet in the middle of the night in some hotel in Bali!
Making patterns and form on my feet in the middle of the night in some hotel in Bali!

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