Photographic Tip of the Month


APRIL 2020 - REPETITIVE SUBJECT


BY THOMAS FARMER


 Notes on Repetitive Subject, the set subject for April 2020 

Repetition in our mundane daily lives can be boring. Repeating patterns however, add life, zeal and impact to an image. Patterns are to photography, what rhythm is to music. Repeating patterns, if captured the right way, strengthen an image. Ten pillars on a porch, a hundred umbrellas on the beach, a thousand bricks on a wall and a million petals on a field... repetition takes a life of its own. 

Some Tips 

Voluminous Repetitions. All things that are repeated, technically create a pattern. You just have to observe these patterns around you…they are around you, almost everywhere. While you may daydream of an idyllic photo shoot surrounded by thousands of daffodils to capture their repeating pattern, you can start by focusing on the stairs leading down from your apartment! 

Include Textures. The devil is in the details…so is beautiful photography. So the next time you have a repeating pattern of something, a heap of oranges or a line of scooters, try to flesh out the textures. Rough, smooth, soft, shiny, whatever textures you have, make them stand out. This adds depth, dimension and splendor to the image. Consider light as a major factor when depicting textures. 

Maintain Symmetry. Symmetry is often the essence of patterns. It can make or break the composition of the repeating pattern image you are trying to create. By maintaining symmetry within your repeating pattern image, you add organization and balance to the scene. That’s a good thing. 

Add Lines and Curves. Lines and curves help guide the viewer’s eye to your center of interest. Lines infuse an additional dimension to an otherwise flat image. When arranging lines in your shot, keep in mind that vertical lines emphasize depth and draw eyes upwards, while horizontal lines lead the viewer’s gaze into the image and to the center of focus. 

Emphasize Patterns. As explained earlier, but worth repeating, try to fill up the frame with the pattern. The repetitive subjects should be ‘bursting’ out of the frame, indicating there are a lot more than captured on camera. For best results, use a telephoto lens. 

Illustrate Varying Tones. Repetition is like a double-edged sword; it is simultaneously interesting and potentially monotonous at times. So play with color and light, depicting varying tones across your image. Capture both bright with soft, dark with light, red with green…this keeps your image from falling to the monotonous side and helps you bring about a mesmerizing effect. 

Crop. No, not the crop in the fields... the other crop! Cropping helps you remove any distractions from the image. Holding the viewers’ attention becomes easier. 

Focus One and Blur the Rest. Also mentioned earlier, but since we’re talking about repeating patterns…This is a creative way to break a pattern’s monotony. Instead of creating a gap or adding a contrasting color or object, use focus to highlight the subject. 

Zoom-in. Capturing patterns will often have you zooming-in. So you may need to read up on macro photography. Repeating patterns that are captured in a zoomed-in frame force the viewer to take notice. 

Keep a Creative Outlook. To capture the best repeating patterns in your photos, an open mind has to accompany the open eyes. Observe the patterns around you and notice the minute details of the subject. 

Inspiration 

Look at photos that have repeating patterns to inspire yourself. That’s the best way to learn. As with every skill in photography, or any art form for that matter, inspiration makes a world of a difference. Expose yourself to some quality photographs with repeating patterns. Take it all in. By filling your head with enough impressive pictures, you up your chances of catching some inspiring ones yourself. 

So start repeating the ‘watching’ part first! 

Every photographer wants to take that photograph that makes people look into the distance and go Ohhh…Looking at inspiring repeating patterns can help you take that photo. 


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