Technology changes with time, but the fundamentals and recipes in photography remains. This article was first published in 2006, revised in 2018
“Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.”Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), English philosopher and mathematician. Dialogues, June 10, 1943.
Pattern is a recurring set of events or objects which repeat in a predictable way. Pattern is one of the Design Elements used in Visual Arts. Seasoned photographers will look out for Pattern in their quest for new images. It can be the tiles on the floor, the veins of the leaves, the neatly arranged rows of shoes in the kindergarten or even the rows of long shadows created by the pillars in the late afternoon. The photographers’ obsessions for patterns can be evident in some of the world’s greatest images.
One need not be an expert in photography to be able to identify patterns from their surroundings. To take nice pictures of the patterns, one needs to equip oneself with the necessary basic photography knowledge as well as with the right equipment. For many beginners, some of the common problems faced will include:
- Camera or subject shake
- Identify the main subject
- Messy background
- Unsure of which angle to adopt
In many cases, many beginners overlook the distracting objects in the background which can disrupt the pattern or draw the viewers’ attention away from the pattern. If at all possible, it is usually good to avoid having the background in the image. One quick way to solve this problem is to either move yourself or if you can, try to re-arrange the subjects. Should the background cannot be avoided in the image, try to have a simple background.
Another common problem faced by photographers is the lack of ideas as to what angle and composition to use to shoot the pattern. Whether to focus on one part of the pattern and render the rest out of focus, or shoot directly head on and have all the patterns sharp, or shoot from an angle, these often leave the photographers with so many options to choose from. It is good to spend some time exploring the various angles. Experiment with the various angles and shoot more, especially if the pattern is nice, shoot both horizontally and vertically. If the results are unsatisfactory, you can always delete the images later.
Poor lighting condition and use of low ISO which results in slow shutter speed is the main culprit for camera and subject shake. If the subject is stationary, a good tripod will be useful in preventing camera shake. If you are shooting handheld, it is good to achieve a shutter speed of at least 1/(focal length).
Equally important is the ability to appreciate the quality of light at different times of the day as well as the weather condition. Mid day sun is usually avoided to prevent having hotspot on the subjects. Early morning and late afternoon often produces good lighting that light up the subjects nicely. Even on a cloudy day, the flat lighting can also help to produce some modest images. Hence, do not discount the possibility of photographing nice images even on a cloudy day.
- Be conscious of your surrounding where you can find patterns. It can be closer to you than you can imagine.
- Try various angles (top, low, eye level).
- Any lens can shoot pattern, including the fisheye lens.
- Avoid clutter in the background. Keep it simple.
- Use of lighting to create visual impact.
- If need be, increase ISO to minimize camera shake.
With the tips above in mind as well as the case studies below, enjoy feasting your eyes in a world of pattern.Views: 301