What is Moiré? Photography Explained

What is Moiré?

Photography Explained

When it comes to portrait photography, clients often ask what to wear.  We give guidelines but ultimately it’s about choosing clothes to suit your style, your business and your brand. However, when it comes to patterned clothing we do offer some strong advice.  Avoid small patterns or any items with repetitive detailing.  This is mainly a concern for men; gingham shirts, fine checked material, that kind of thing.  Why?  Well it’s to avoid moiré.

What is moiré?

Moiré occurs in a photograph when a scene, an object or a fabric being photographed contains repetitive details (dots, lines, checks, stripes) that exceed the sensor resolution. The camera produces a strange-looking wavy pattern that is very distracting and not what you want from a corporate headshot.

Often, the image itself may be okay but when you reduce the resolution of an image below a certain point, moire distortions can sometimes appear.  The large file size image may show no distortions but as soon as that image is compressed, for a LinkedIn profile photo say, the distortion occurs.

Equally, the image may be fine in colour but once the shot is converted to black & white moiré can occur.

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A slight moiré effect on a patterned shirt

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Moiré occurs in conversion and compression

The Canon 5DS had an anti-moiré filter but it was removed in later models to make picture quality sharper.  There are methods to reduce the effect in Photoshop and Lightroom but there’s no way to remove it completely in post-production.

So, to avoid moiré in your corporate headshot, avoid fine patterns.  There really is no other way around the problem.

 

For more advice on what to wear for your corporate portrait photo session, check out our recent blog post on the subject.  And pop over to our website to download our Headshot Guide.

 

All images Jon Bradley Photography