Lighting & Composition Posts

Techniques that Transform: Patterns

Patterns can form an important part of the design of a photograph, and in some cases they can become the subject in their own right. There are patterns all around us in the world, both natural and man-made. These patterns could be in the form of lines, circles, textures, or anything else that has a repeating pattern.

The first thing a pattern can be used for is to make a textured photograph that can be used as a background for something else. This type of image is literally everywhere you look: brick walls, pipes, shells, seeds, pebbles, or even the pavement containing a repeating pattern. Repeat patterns can make a great backdrop for a portrait, allowing you to contrast your subject with the pattern so that they stand out. Something as simple as a brick wall or a leaf background is all you need.

Another way of utilizing a pattern is to break it in some way. For example, having a single square within lots of circles will draw the eye to the square and give it real impact. This type of pattern breaking could be through color contrast, as well as shape.

You can also use patterns to create a stronger contrast, where there is a clear divide in a photograph between one type of pattern and another: the divide between a wall and the pavement, for example.

A Focal Point in the Pattern: Lines in the sand can produce great patterns. In this case, the pattern is broken by a single piece of vegetation.

Pebbles Can Make Great Texture: The pebbles on a beach can form an interesting texture. Although they are not all the same, the overall effect is a type of pattern.

Man-Made Patterns: In this photo, a circular pattern has been formed by a chain. The eye is drawn to the center of the image

Feeding the Masses: This pattern was produced by concrete blocks that run underneath a bridge. It provides a strong backdrop for this portrait.

Lines of Letterboxes: The letterboxes in this photo provide a uniform pattern, which is interrupted by the one that is open slightly.

Contrasting Patterns: This image has two distinct patterns: the roof at the lower left and lanterns at the upper right . This produces a contrast in patterns.

Excerpt from Simple Scene, Sensational Shot: Artistic Photography from Any Environment by Simon Bond © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.

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