Using Textures with Photos

Awhile back I used a photo texture to add a little extra dimension of interest to a series of photos I had been working on and one of my readers asked for a little insight into how to use textures. So, here we go!

The thing with using a texture is to make sure that you don’t overdo it. As with most effects, and I’m guilty of it too, it is very easy to keep piling on the filters or textures, or pushing the sliders farther and farther to the right, which can often lead to a pretty messy image. And, as post-processors, we are often too close to it to notice when we’ve gone too far.

To quote from a couple of movies “Small moves, Ellie, small moves” (from Contact) and “Aim small, miss small” (from The Patriot). Since the temptation is often to keep going I often try to remember the spirit behind these two quotes that if you keep control over your adjustments you will have better luck hitting your target.

This is not at all to say that you shouldn’t let inspiration strike you and experiment and go above and beyond to see what might happen. But you will often find that subtlety will take you far.

Likewise, not only is it possible to go a bit overboard with an effect, but you can also hold onto it for too long. Once again it’s something I’m guilty of too, if you find an effect that you like you will use it all the time. Don’t. It’s one thing to develop a signature style, but it’s another to beat a dead horse. You shouldn’t use the same effects all the time. It will get old pretty fast, and not every image benefits from the same treatment.

In the following images I’m going to walk through what I did to add a texture to one of my photos. The steps are included in the captions, so please click on the first image and step through the others as we go to check out what i did.

Eiffel Tower Eiffel Tower processed using Topaz Adjust Eiffel Tower Sky - Curves Adjustment
Paper Photo Texture Eiffel Tower with Photo Texture

Leave a comment below along with a link to some examples of how you use photo textures in your own work!

  • steve kalman

    Thanks for that great, quick walkthru.

    On the middle picture you said that you applied a curve to the sky. How did you select the sky (only) in that image? I know that the wands will select almost all of it relatively easily, but the parts showing through the trees and through the tower itself are what give me problems. Any suggestions?

    February 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm
  • Great tip Jason. I have not used a texture yet but this makes me want to go try it. Any good sources of texture images that you can recommend?

    February 17, 2010 at 12:38 am
  • Great, easy to follow tip. Thanks!

    February 17, 2010 at 1:24 am
  • LSP

    Great tip. I somehow restricted myself from using textures with my images. After reading this tip, I tried using a texture with one of my old photographs of an architectural building in my town. More than the colored version, I now like the textured feel 🙂

    Thank you!

    March 1, 2010 at 9:14 am

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