so, naturally, i asked jessica if she would share a little bit of her wisdom with us.....and being the amazing person she is, she happily agreed :)
jessica's website: jessica drossin photography
purchase jessica's textures: jessica drossin textures
Playing with Fire: Adding Textures to Photographs
The number one rule for using textures is that there are no rules for using textures. Please remember that as I proceed to give you my perspective on how to successfully integrate textures into your photography.
The options for how to combine textures with imagery are virtually endless. I myself integrate texture in different ways depending upon the day and my mood at the time.
I know that the Maternal Lens has a tremendous following of photographers whose skill levels with texture implementation are all over the map. So here are a few thoughts I have for newbies, intermediates and for the very proficient at using textures to enhance their photography.
I’ll be honest. Adding textures to photographs can be fraught with peril. A quick glance thru some of Flickr’s pools and you’ll see lots of examples of poorly integrated texture use where the subject’s fluorescent, rippled and blotchy skin makes them appear to have just survived a nuclear strike. Adding a texture can make something different, certainly, but as we all know, different is not always good.
But textures are sexy and used well, they add depth, color, visual interest and personality to a photo. Here are some of my thoughts on integrating texture, whatever your skill level.
1) Don’t start with portraiture. Begin experimenting with texture on fairly simple subject matter, preferably flower close ups, still-lifes and landscapes. These subjects are more forgiving and will allow you to experiment freely as you begin learning how textures affect your photographs.
2) When you move into portraiture, start subtle. When choosing the layer effect, start with Soft Light or Screen and be prepared to lower the opacity level. Typically, these modes affect photos most subtly. Save modes such as Overlay, Multiply and Hard Light for when you begin to feel more confident.
3) Choose wisely. For those new to adding textures, pick textures that have relatively neutral tones and subtle contrasts. Save the bolder textures for later.
1) Mind your tones. Adding a color texture file will change the overall color cast of your photo. Sometimes this is a good thing, adding to the overall mood of a photo or helping to make colors pop. But all too often, this can be a negative as when you erase or create a mask to get rid of the texture over the skin, your subject can instantly look cut out of the background because it no longer matches the overall color space you established when you added the texture overlay. I recommend two approaches to combating this effect. First, if you don’t want to deal with a change of color cast, convert the desired texture to grayscale or choose a texture that is a fairly neutral tone (mocha for example). Second, remember that you can paint directly on top of the texture itself. Simply select a color that comes from the texture itself (generally a mid-tone) and using a soft brush, paint right over the texture with this color. Presto – you now have created continuity of tones but gotten rid of the texture’s detail that is making your subject appear to have leprosy.
2) Find yourself. I believe that actions and textures are intended to be resources and tools, not a paint by numbers set. There is not – nor should there be – a “magic button” that instantly creates a memorable photo. Learn to trust yourself and enjoy the process of discovery. I saw a comment the other day from someone asking where a certain texture had come from. Turns out that the person who asked already owned the same textures but just didn’t recognize it because of the way it had been implemented. Make the texture bend to you.
1) Challenge yourself. Go outside your comfort zone and push yourself to do something risky. If you have a set workflow, shake it up and see what happens. For example, if you generally only add your texture as a finishing touch, try implementing it earlier in your process. Add a second or even third texture in different modes and opacity levels. Once in your desired layer mode, try painting directly on top of the texture to add additional depth to highlights and shadows. As an artist, I care less about my own personal “style” and more about the feeling of satisfaction that comes with doing new things and growing. (I mean seriously, I can’t help but to feel sorry for Roy Lichtenstein, stuck for painting comic strip art for almost nearly 40 years because he stumbled onto an art style that got him noticed). So have fun. Wasn’t that the point of doing this in the first place?
2) Never forget rule #1. There are no rules.
thank you so much, jessica!!