How you can use Rhythm, Texture, and Pattern in Photo Composition

We see patterns everywhere. With regard to rhythm and texture, they are powerful tools in photography for many reasons.

What is model? It depends on who you ask. My very old Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a repetitive decorative design.” The online version of the Cambridge Dictionary says this is “any frequently repeated arrangement, especially a design created from repeating lines, shapes or colors on a surface. “

In photography, I would describe it as an area composed of many of the same elements that, when viewed as a whole, appear as a consistent structure with repeating sections. If you are familiar with Gestalt Theory, it states that the human mind groups elements that fit together. That is useful to us because the human mind craves simplicity. Where there was once a mess with many individual parts, now there is only one element, the template.

Our ability to recognize patterns is innate, and our brains have a hard time identifying them. We find them soothing because they create order out of chaotic randomness. So using templates is one method we can use in our images. Indeed, artists have used patterns throughout history and in every culture. Argentina’s Cueva de las Manos features hand-painted samples dating back more than 9,000 years, pottery found in China dating back 20,000 years, and Aurignacian art dating to around 30,000 BC.

How many repeats do we need to see a pattern? An object in itself is not a template, and neither are two. We are beginning to recognize a hint of an object emerging with three to seven objects. Seven is the maximum number we can usually recognize without having to count. (Years ago I led hill walkers’ parties and would never join more than seven people in a group because, more than that, I would have to count the number of members. to see if people will still stay with us.) grows beyond seven, and the more objects it has, the stronger it becomes. With a robust model, we are less likely to see individual elements and instead register the whole thing.

When a sample becomes large enough, it acquires its own texture. To understand this, imagine a flock of birds forming a speckled pattern in the sky.

When we zoom in, that texture disappears and a new pattern consisting of the shapes of the birds appears. Our eyes perceive clusters of birds flying in the same direction or at different distances.

Zoom in closer and the pattern is broken, and we see individual birds, but the smooth texture of the body appears. As we got closer, the texture started to disappear. Then patterns of feathers form. That continues ad infinitum.

An important word when it comes to patterns is repetition. A pattern consists of the same components over and over again. Note that I said the same thing. The components that make up a pattern are not necessarily identical. The patterns we see in nature rarely include identical elements, although man-made patterns often do. But there should be some common ground there. For example, particles of different sizes with the same color will form a pattern, just as particles of the same size with different colors. Particles of different sizes, textures, colors and shapes can produce a pattern, but it will be weaker if the particles have more similarities.

Furthermore, as soon as you add too many variables, the pattern breaks completely and it just becomes a collection of unrelated objects. So from a photographer’s perspective, more similarities in the pattern means that individual components have less visual weight and, therefore, less distracting.

Take, for example, the following image of the side view of a building covered with glass panels. The repeating pattern of the panels is uninteresting, but the visual weight of the double reflection of the moon draws the eye and its power is balanced with the taller, lighter-toned frames of the windows. left side. By sample breaks, the picture is improved.

The angle at which the samples run should also be considered. Just by tilting the phone camera as I took the photo above, the lines of the panel edges run diagonally across the frame. That adds more tension to the image. In the real world, our brains expect diagonals to be unstable and ready to fall. Therefore, we feel the same in patterns. Furthermore, that principle applies more broadly to any audience.

On the other hand, combining diagonals with horizontal or vertical lines can add strength when our minds expect diagonals to strengthen them, such as poles on walls, ropes on tents, Diagonal ends placed on truss bridges or struts below a pier.

Templates are not necessarily limited to the content of a photo. A series of images together can form a pattern. From the art world, consider Andy Warhol’s famous “Campbell Soup Can” screen print. It was not a painting but a series of 32 canvases that were put together, forming a pattern.

Related to patterns is rhythm. Rhythm moves the eye in one or a variety of directions. But most patterns don’t do that, so our eyes wander around them. In other words, rhythms have leading paths, while patterns without rhythms do not. Therefore, we should use rhythm to our advantage. Just as rhythm can intentionally draw the eye, it can also lead the eye away from the subject or act as an obstacle preventing us from moving into the picture.

Some individual patterns can be interesting, but they can also be boring. Without adding a title, it’s hard to add meaning to a photo of a template other than presenting it as an abstract image. In general, a pattern has equal visual weight on it. Referring to the Gestalt theory I mentioned earlier and how the mind craves simplicity, we can use a strong pattern equally with a blurred or blank background by interrupting it with something weighty greater vision.

I hope you find that interesting. Have you used patterns, textures, and rhythms in your photos? Are there specific templates that you regularly use in your chosen genre of photography? It would be nice to see some examples in the comments.

If you liked that article, you may like this about two things that can get in the way of your photography.

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