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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Texture Blending

As you might be able to tell from my last post on in-camera multiple exposures, I have been going on a bit of a creative journey and experimenting with various techniques. With this image I was doing a bit of texture blending, which is to say combining a 'base image' with various (in this case, two) underlying textures using blending modes to allow the textures to 'absorb' into the underlying image instead of just remaining stacked on top of it.  It is a technique that not only blends a texture into an image (which can be useful if there are bland areas without much detail), but also tends to intensify colors because the texture's color and luminosity also blends into the image below.  Needless to say, getting a nice result requires some experimentation with each image as not only can the specific texture be changed, but one can also change blending modes and use clipping layers to change the individual textures any way you would like.

Some practitioners of this technique really let the texture come though vigorously, but I personally enjoy a more subtle application. The finished image is seen directly below while the original is underneath that.

Pete's Lake In Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Textures Applied    © Howard Grill

With the blended texture, the yellow and pink/purple of the sky have intensified and the slight rippled effect best seen in the sky and lake add interest to areas that were otherwise fairly bland. It is a bit difficult to really see the rippled appearance with the small blog photograph, but if you click on the image it will open as a bigger 'lightbox' photo and the effect will be more apparent. Overall, I think it turned a pretty reasonable image that in my mind lacked a little something into one that is much more pleasing. 

Below is the original with no textures blended in.  It served as the starting point.

Pete's Lake In Michigan's Upper Peninsula - No Textures Applied    © Howard Grill

So let's have a look at the textures I blended into the bottom image to yield the top one.  Here we go....

Texture 1

Texture 1

Texture 2

Texture 2

Finally, here is a screenshot of how I have the layers stacked and arranged in Photoshop:

Layer Stack.jpg

The bottom layer is the blended 16 bit HDR image with Lightroom adjustments as imported into Photoshop.  Right above that is a curve applied through a luminosity mask and above that is a tonal contrast effect applied via Color Efex Pro. Above that are two Hue/Saturation layers with their effects targeted to specific tonalities, once again using luminosity masking, as well as two curves adjustment layers. Finally, we have the two textures applied via the soft light blend mode at <100% opacity. The bottom texture has a clipping adjustment layer to change its hue and saturation a bit.  Finally, there is one more curves adjustment layer at the top of the stack.  

If there are any questions as to what was done please feel free to ask in the comments and I would be glad to explain the process in more depth.