USE URBAN ENVIRONMENTS
Hit the streets and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to shooting patterns
The urban landscape is by far the best place to go pattern hunting, simply because humans love repetition. Climb to the highest viewpoint in a town or city and you’ll find many different patterns, from the layout of the streets far below to the buildings lining those streets and the features of each individual building.
Modern architecture is especially productive – think of the hundreds of identical windows in towering office blocks (and the reflections in those windows), the criss-crossing frames, zig-zagging staircases, colourful cladding… the list goes on. Don’t just limit your attention to the great outdoors either – modern buildings often offer even more pattern potential inside. Use your widest lens to make a feature of amazing interiors – the distortion created by ultra-wide focal lengths may even emphasise the pattern. Old buildings can be the source of great shots too – churches, abbeys and cathedrals in particular. Look for rows of columns, buttresses, ornate stained glass windows and spiral staircases and compress perspective with a telezoom lens, so the repeated features seem crowded together and the pattern effect is intensified.
If you’re not a city slicker, there are plenty of other places to find patterns. Seaside towns are ideal – in summer you have stacks of deckchairs on the prom or buckets and spades outside shops. Beach huts make great pattern shots, and piers use repetition in their design, so you’ll be spoiled for choice at any time of year. Harbours are another option – looks for coils of rope, piles of fishing nets, stacks of lobster pots and fish crates. Boats moored in harbours and marinas also make eye-catching patterns if you can get a high viewpoint so you’re looking down on them.
Market traders are all in competition with each other, so they have to find ways of attracting potential customers to their stall. One way is to make their displays eye-catching, and nothing does that better than a pretty pattern! Wander around a market and at every turn you’ll see patterns. Crates of fruit and veg, shoes, slippers, souvenirs, fish, flowers – you name it and you’ll find it neatly arranged. Many of these products rely on colour for their appeal – especially fruit and veg – but they work just as well in black and white, as the repetition itself becomes the focus of attention, rather than the subject matter.
“Use your widest lens to make a feature of amazing interiors – the distortion created may even emphasise the pattern”