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Photographer's tip: How to capture repeating patterns

A man looks out from his balcony of a condominium building in the Front Street area in Toronto on March 22, 2012.

Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Globe photographer Deborah Baic offers tips and tricks for this week's Photo Desk assignment on repeating patterns.

Patterns of every shape and size surround our lives everyday, whether they are natural or man made. But are often overlooked as we make our way through the day. They are under our feet, like the image of the repeating holes in a step, and high above our heads, like the lines and shapes of the many condominiums that dot Toronto's skyline.

But even beyond the obvious patterns we may see, sometimes there are more subtle repeating patterns like that of the image in Bobber Plaza, where the Bobber statues are a repeating shape, but the shape is also repeated in the buildings behind in the skyline, especially the CN Tower.

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Repeating patterns, shapes, lines and even colours can make an image more interesting, whether they frame a subject or become your subject. The key is to keep your eyes open and use your imagination and see the patterns.

When you are out working on this assignment, try different angles to see how the pattern repeats to create the impact you desire. Sometimes a pattern will be broken or a bit mundane, but from different angle, whether from another side, above or below, the pattern may be much more dynamic.

Don't be afraid to try different focal lengths. Using a telephoto lens can allow you to isolate the pattern from other elements around it. For example, I used a 70-200mm lens to isolate the spot on the step and the condominium. Using a telephoto lens can also create the illusion that your pattern may go on endlessly.

The Bobber image, on the other hand, was shot with a wide angle lens with a maximum depth of field. You can see how the pattern of the Bobbers plays off the buildings and the CN Tower in the background. Playing with the length of you lens or zooming into your subject can help provide the desired effect.

So take your camera with you on your next walk or on your way to work and really look at the patterns around you. They can be obvious or very subtle – but they are there. They can even be in the people around you. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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