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A Guest post by Mary Andrade from Pam Photography.
Recently while I was processing an image, my husband, Peter, asked “Why take a perfectly good photograph and add texture?” I paused, fair question. I use texturing as to create unique one of a kind images. Recognizing that in almost every aspect of photography there are “rules of the road” to understand, and then knowingly break, I tried to gather more information about tips and techniques. I had trouble turning up information, so I reached out to Paul Grand and Jill Ferry, the creators of Flypaper Textures, whose work I have admired on Flickr. They have been gracious enough to answer my many questions, and share some images to illustrate key points.
First and foremost, texturing is not a way to fix photographs with problems. You know, garbage in, garbage out. When you first begin texturing photographs, look through your high-quality images for subjects that have a soft quality (flowers, misty mornings, etc) or are simple in terms of composition and the number of elements.
Texturing can be overwhelming, there are a lot of choices, ways to blend, and different ways to alter your image. Looking at examples is a good way to get clear on your end goal. The Flypaper Textures group on Flickr is active and a great place to go for inspiration.
Here are some things to consider before you begin:
For example look at the difference between Paul’s image of a vineyard and Jill’s image of a vase of flowers. Both have a very different style and feel.
Below are my before and after images of sunset at a nearby pier. I wanted a distressed feel to the photograph, to add more interest to the sky, but did not want to significantly affect the colors. I chose a combination of textures that preserved the orange and yellow colors of the sunset and created a distressed edge around the image.
Thinking about what you want your final image to look like, before you consider which textures to use, will help you narrow down viable candidates.
This is the hard part. Paul characterizes this as the holy grail, Jill encourages experimentation. Jill and I both recommend, that if something isn’t working, stop. Pick it up again later. The good news is that over time it will start to become instinctual. As you begin texturing try:
Take a look at two images that Jill created using different textures. There is a different feel and mood to them.
Or the unique results that Paul has achieved using different colored textures
Below is an image of a monarch butterfly. I wanted a “shabby chic” feel to the image so I chose textures that were complimentary in color and strength. I reduced the opacity so the “crackle” feel of the texture didn’t overwhelm the image and removed the texture from the butterfly to help it standout.
As you start developing more experience with how textures will impact your images, Paul suggests:
I won’t go through the step-by-step on how to combine textures and your photograph using Photoshop, but rather provide you with some things to consider as you merge them together.
Firstly, simplify the photograph’s native texture first. This may sound contradictory, take texture out so you can add it back in. You are creating a smooth canvas on which to layer elements that you personally select. Ways to do this include: Filters in CS5 such as HDR, Daubs, Watercolor all at a very low setting (around 10%) or the Topaz Labs Simplify filter.
Secondly, Use layer blend modes.
Paul and Jill include “recipes” on their Flypaper and Flickr sites. I find these are often helpful when trying to get my head around what will give me a certain look and feel. Their recipes are more precise, but here are a few rules of thumb:
For example, compare these two images in terms of the strength of the texture and the quality of the effect.
There is a lot to consider when texturing. Here are some basic tips that will help you:
As I began texturing, I explored many free and fee options. I even started photographing textures myself. It’s not easy to get the quality and variety that I have found with Flypaper Textures. Paul and Jill’s background and experience shows in the textures they offer. Here is their link for more information and recipes.
For this image, I used Cirrus Skies and Tempest Seas from Flypaper Textures new Spring Painterly pack.
Paul and Jill formed their international collaboration after discovering a shared interest in texturing on via Flickr. Paul, a formally trained artist, and Jill, a photographer and librarian, are both represented by Getty images and are successful book illustrators.
Mary is one half of pam (Peter and Mary) photography. We are a husband and wife team that discovered our shared passion for photography a few years ago. We characterize it as a unique form of couples’ therapy that requires negotiation, compromise….and most difficult….the sharing of equipment. You can see our portfolio and blog at: Pam Photography.
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