Tag Archives: using Photoshop

Week 12 Module: How to add a grunge texture to a photograph

iPhone 4s photo with grunge from an app action copyright Aloha Lavina Bangkok train tracks BTS tracks Bangkok city

This technique has been around for a long time, but it hasn’t lost its fun factor.

I’m talking about adding a textured layer to your photo.

Adding textures to a photo can be done with an app on the iPhone, such as what I did with this photo here. Without the texture, the photo itself was a linear, kind of boring snapshot. With the grunge layer applied with the app, I got a dramatic effect and was able to bring attention to the lines on the train platform.

iPhone 4s photo with grunge from an app action copyright Aloha Lavina Bangkok train tracks BTS tracks Bangkok city

Grunge texture on a photo using an app in the iPhone.

This module is about adding a grunge layer to your photograph to add drama and to bring attention to a particular element in the photo.

Do you collect textures?

When I am shooting, I often come across different textures that would make for interesting overlays for my images.  I shoot them and keep them in my hard drive for future use in a folder marked “Stock textures.” That way, I am always ready in case the mood hits to create a textured photo with a grunge effect.

What photo should you make with this effect in mind?

Any photo can work with this effect, but it might help you to shoot a photo that had just one thing as its subject. That subject could be a person or object in the frame. If the subject is light itself, the photo will probably not work, since its subject needs the context (which we will cover with texture) of the whole picture to work. Similarly, if you had a composition in which you had to balance the frame using two different elements, this effect would harm rather than help your composition. So pick a photo that has one clear thing that you’re focusing on. This is where we will center the composition as we apply the texture.

How do I add textures using Photoshop?

There are a couple of things in Photoshop you have to understand before you can work with a texture layer on top of your actual image.

The first thing is how to use layer masks work. Here is an excellent tutorial that shows you that.

The second thing you need to review is how to use the Blending Modes. Here’s a tutorial that shows you what Blending Modes do to an image.

Now that you’ve reviewed your knowledge about Blending Modes and Layer Masks, here is a video that shows you how to add a texture layer to make a dramatic photo.

Finally, I just completed a short video tutorial on this same topic. If you would like to learn a simple way that I use to add texture to a photo, head on over to my Youtube channel.

The assignment this week is to shoot textures and an image that you would like to apply texture to. Now that you know how to use layer masks and blending modes, experiment and see what works. The only limits to your textured imagery is your imagination and creativity!

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Confessions of a Photoshop User

retouched portrait copyright Aloha Lavina.

I just read this article over at the Fstoppers blog about how the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority banned an ad by Lancome because Julia Robert’s skin in it was Photoshopped too much and represented ‘false advertising.’

The question raised on the blog was, how do retouchers and photographers feel about this ban by the Agency, and “How would it affect the way we do our jobs or how we look at things aesthetically, creatively and socially?”

I use Photoshop. I use it for retouching photos of models for print ads on fashion magazines. But notice how many tutorials are out there for making sure retouching preserves skin texture, detail, and cautioning us against making the skin look like plastic. As of this writing, 49,700 tutorials online talk about how to retouch skin so that it looks like real skin. Like me, a lot of photographers are concerned about not making retouched skin look unreal in photographs.

An unretouched photo can look beautiful. The model’s skin in the photo below was unretouched because I had virtually no Photoshop skills when I took it. But you know what? The model was 18 years old at the time the photo was taken; she had flawless skin, and besides, she had charming freckles.

no retouching portrait copyright Aloha Lavina

Unretouched portrait. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

But the truth of the matter is, if you’re a photographer who wants to get an editorial commission, you use Photoshop. You use Photoshop because the industry standards for beautiful ask you to remove blemishes. You use Photoshop because no one wants to see a zit smack in the middle of a makeup ad. You use Photoshop because flawlessly retouched skin in your look book gets clients to call you and book you.

retouched portrait copyright Aloha Lavina.

The trick is to apply Photoshop without it looking like you did. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

So like every struggling editorial photographer, I study Photoshop. I browse those thousands of tutorials and even made a tutorial of my workflow. I read Scott Kelby’s books. And I use Photoshop because if I use it 10,000 times, each time I get a little bit better at making digitally enhanced skin in photos look like I didn’t retouch it.

If it were your job, wouldn’t you?

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If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! Even if you don’t like what’s on the blog, leave a comment any way, but please keep it nice. :) To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

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