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.

Textures II

In my last post, I presented some of Cate's images that I found mysterious and ethereal and which motivated me to contact her in order to find out about her post-processing. I mentioned that I don’t usually write about Photoshop techniques in this blog, but, every so often, I do find something that is directly Photoshop related that I would like to share. Needless to say, this is one of those times.

As it turns out, the post-processing is done with textures. What are textures? Any image that consists mainly of abstract color and shape can serve as an underlying texture to blend with another 'real' image. So how is it done?

Texture By Michael Smith
More On Michael's Textures In My Next Post

Open the 'real' image that you want to apply the texture to as well as the image of the actual texture itself (an example of a texture is posted above). Change the name of the texture image layer (it should consist of a single layer) from ‘Background’ to anything else (so that it can be dragged out to the other image). I just rename the layer ‘Texture’.

Next, resize the texture image to the same size and resolution as the image to which it is to be applied. It is just a background texture so one need not worry about maintaining image detail in it when upsizing. Then, while holding down the shift key (to make sure the texture is centered over the entire image) drag the renamed texture layer onto the image to which you want to apply the effect.

Whoa… that the texture layer is the top layer of the 'real' image, all you see is the texture. That is because the blending mode of the layer is set to ‘Normal’ by default. Now comes the fun. Change the blending mode and experiment. Once you change the blending mode, the texture blends with the underlying image in different ways. Start with ‘Overlay’ or ‘Soft Light’, but, by all means, try them all to see what effects can be had. Change the opacity of the layer to control the amount of the effect. Use a layer mask to localize the effect. Apply a clipping layer so that the texture layer, and only that layer, can be manipulated by changing its tonality or color with an additional curves or hue/saturation adjustment layer respectively. Go wild if you like.

I am just learning how to work with textures myself, and, so far, find that I lean towards their ‘gentler’ use. In my next post I will show an example of an image I have been working on along with the separate texture image that I have 'gently' applied for a subtle but, I think, important improvement in the image. I will also mention some places and people from whom one can obtain texture images, in addition to shooting your own.