2020 Photo Challenge #8

February’s theme / technique: Being Creative with Patterns

The six visual keys to a great photograph are:

    • Patterns
    • Texture
    • Lines
    • Light
    • Depth of field
    • Space

This month we are going to look at Patterns. Patterns can be found everywhere, in nature or man-made constructions. For a photographer, using patterns is key to a good composition.

They are made up of repeated objects, geometric shapes or abstract patterns, or colours and they may be random or ordered. Visual patterns in nature are often loose and organic – think of spirals, waves, rock formations, sand.

    • Try using patterns as the main subject of your photo with the focal point on the patterns removing the context.
    • Or you can use the pattern as a backdrop to something else.
    • Try abstract imagery using close-up photography – peeling paint, rust stains for example
    • Break the pattern, for instance position one red apple in the midst of a pile of green ones. And of course remembering the rule of thirds, any break should be on an intersection.
    • Create your own patterns.
    • Combine patterns. Contrasting or complementary patterns work well.
This month's final assignment – Use pattern as a background for a more substantial subject. 

Don’t have your subject too large in the frame or it will detract from the pattern. And consider whether the patterned background adds or takes away the impact of the subject. Remember also the general ‘rules’ of compositional techniques.

I have four very different subjects this week, all from the archives I’m afraid, but photographing patterns is a thing of mine so even if I were to look for new subjects they would more than likely turn out the same!

First one I am not so sure of. This pretty jug of daisies is the subject, but does the patterned tablecloth distract from it? Or is it that the composition is too tight? I cropped in a bit and tried to correct the camera distortion, but this probably hasn’t helped with the framing. That daisy is too near the top of the frame I feel.

Next is this image of an Ammonite sculpture with a background of trees which appear to echo the curves of the sculpture. I’m happy with this organic background, but is it enough of a pattern?

My third offering is another sculpture in the Eden Project, this time with the pattern of the hexagonal windows of the biome in the background. This one I think works, possibly because the pattern is so large and the subject a similar tone, though from a composition perspective I would have liked the sculpture more to the right-hand side of the photo.

Finally this shot of a Kea (New Zealand parrot) with the pattern of the diamond-shaped fence in the background. Now this one breaks the rule of having the subject too large in the foreground, but does it distract from the pattern? Or does the pattern form a geometric balance to the curves of the bird’s feathers? I like the fact that the background is of similar hues to the subject.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on these images. The aim of this year is to improve my photos. But I do need your help!

If you would like to join in with the 2020 photo challenge then please take a look at my 2020 Photo Challenge page. No complicated rules, just a camera required 🙂

    • Create your own post with some information about how you composed the shot.
    • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
    • Add the tag #2020PhotoChallenge so everyone can find your entry easily in the WP Reader
    • Get your post(s) in by the end of the week, as the new theme begins next Sunday with Textures.

Last week Susan had a closer look at the patterns found on Hellebores and came to some interesting conclusions.

Cee has several fantastic breaks in her patterns and Traudel spotted these mail boxes.

You’ll find Kaz lounging about the pool and Pauline rising to the challenge in her piece of Paradise.

Thanks to everyone who has joined in so far!

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

57 thoughts on “2020 Photo Challenge #8”

  1. What a lot of interesting comments and feed back on this one Jude. Certainly a difficult assignment to get my head around. Like you I often take photos, or snapshot, as a record of events. These challenges are making me think outside the square. I really like that cheeky Kea but maybe if the pattern of the wire behind him was the full background. I like the way the sharpness of the feathers contrasts with the out of focus wire pattern. I also like the haphazard pattern of the foliage, I would definitely call it a pattern. I struggled to interpret the “brief” this week. Here is my contribution. https://retiredfromgypsylife.wordpress.com/2020/02/24/20-20-photo-challenge-patterns-4/

  2. Hi Jude, I sent a comment with a link to today’s pattern post earlier today. Wonder if it went into your spam box.. what a lot of very interesting comments you received . This was a difficult challenge. I’m not sure I got it right, as you mentioned I also tend to take photos/snapshots for a record. I now will look with different eyes, when I eventually get out on a photo mission, but again, I enjoyed looking for examples in the archives. I do like the cheeky Kia photo I like the sharpness focus of the feathers against the soft focus of the fence. I think maybe if the fence extended to the bottom of the image it would highlight the bird. I certainly think the trees behind the sculpture are a pattern of nature.

    1. Links have to be approved so there is a delay if I am not on the computer. I have found it now and will be along for a look in a minute 🙂 Yes, the comments are fabulous, just what I intended, to get people actually looking at the images and thinking about them. I love the Kia, but it wasn’t photographed for this assignment otherwise I would have ensured the fence was more prominent, but I couldn’t get out to do any new photos so I had to find some that were almost right. I know none of them really are other than the biome where the pattern does take prominence over the sculpture (I think anyway). But it is great that everyone is taking an interest and it would have been a bit of an “oops” disaster if I hadn’t posted anything 😨 lol….

  3. I’m a bit torn here. I think this is a great project Jude (and I really do want to contribute when I sort my time out). It is really tough to find or create images that illustrate the point AND retain their enjoyability (for lack of a better word) as images.

    I like the last three shots very much. The amonite shots works really well for me; it has subtle flow and is beautifully composed. The sculpture/dome shot is clear and powerful and is definitely an image that draws me in — I want to know more!! The kea is lovely, but compositionally probably does need a bit more fence in the background.

    But all of these images interest me and make me curious. And I think that good photography is about more than an aesthetically pleasing composition (in the widest sense of the term); it’s about drawing the viewer into a new world or a new way of seeing the familiar. Techniques and “rules” exist to help do that.

    The still life doesn’t work for me because in order to show the pattern of the cloth, you’ve shot at an angle that doesn’t invite me in to the main subject. Shooting from either directly above, or a very low angle would have made the main subject more interesting, and the former would have shown the patterned cloth as well. Having said that, maybe the tray isn’t big enough in relation to the teapot pattern???

    Kudos to you for taking this project on and inviting us all to critique your work. I hope my comments read as positively to you as they do to me as I’m writing them.

    1. Your comments are fine Su. Still lifes are definitely not my forte! And yes, a lower angle would have been much better. I don’t think I was even seeing the tablecloth when I took the shot, by trying to get rid of the distortion I have not improved the angle of the vase and flowers. I knew it wasn’t a good image but left it in because it does show how difficult it can be trying to photograph a subject with a patterned background. Thank you for taking the time to look at the photos and analyse them. All these observations help.

      1. Thanks Jude. The more I think about this challenge, the more I can see that it is a really good one — precisely because, to do it “properly” requires showing the images that aren’t perfect, but illustrate a point and invite critique.
        … and yes, I do sound like an armchair critic, but am more enthused than ever to join in.

        1. I’d like you to join in when you can. Hopefully some of the assignments will interest you. I know that the DOF month will be right up your street 🙂

        2. They all interest me. I seem to have lost energy lately and everything is taking so much longer than I’m used to. I see projects I’d like to do whizz past me. ☹️

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