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In addition to making things lighter and darker, one of the many things that light does is to create texture. As you get angled light onto a rough surface, the surface casts little shadows on itself and you see all this wonderful texture. In this old beat-up hotel we are just finding that all over the place. There's peeling paint. There's broken plaster. There are shattered windows. It's just a texture fest in here. I've noticed with students that eventually there is some point where every beginning photographer begins to see texture and recognize texture as a really wonderful thing to photograph.
It's a wonderful representation of light itself. That's said, you have to be very careful with texture, because particularly in a place like this, it's interesting to come in and see all this texture and go wow! There's got to be a composition here and sometimes there is. You can start working with it, and maybe you can find something interesting. It's important to pay attention though to the fact that very often texture itself is not a subject for a photo. Here is a great example. I've got this beat-up wall. I've got stuff on the floor. I like the colors. I like the texture.
When the light hits it just right, it looks really great. I don't have a subject. There's not really anything I can do with it. This is another instance where I've got a great background for something. So, what I would try to do is if I've got a friend with me, stick them in front of the wall and you may think, but I am not portrait shooter. That's not what I came here for, yeah, but then you've got a subject, and you will find that having the subject gives you again an anchor that allows the viewer to explore that texture and appreciate that texture. So, I'm going to work in a space like this when I find texture to find a subject to go in front of it.
Sometimes that can be a simple graphical element that anchors the image, sometimes I need to drag something else into the composition. So be careful with texture, learn to develop an eye for it, pay attention to it, watch throughout the day as texture changes, as the light changes, but do keep an eye on being careful about shooting texture as subject. Sometimes that's a somewhat risky endeavor, because as we've said before every image has to have a clearly defined subject and background.
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