The Stanley Cup Playoffs!

22 Apr

Oh.  Wait.  That’s what I’m watching, not what this blog is about. (Go B’s!)

This blog is about a little thing called texture as it pertains to photography. Visual texture is the illusion of having physical texture. (Apparently no one told The Wik you can’t define a word with the word. So, as a supplement to that…)

Texture [teks-cher] (noun): the imitation of the tactile quality of represented objects. (Dictionary.com with the assist! Do they have assists in hockey?)

Ok, so now that we know what it issssss, how does it apply to photography?  And more importantly, why?

Texture – or rather, the appearance of texture – is generally applied to photos to either add interest and mood, or to help emphasize and isolate the subject of an image.  The first instance – of adding interest or mood – works in conjunction with color balance an image.  I’ve talked about that in the past here.  The texture aspect of it helps to give the viewer an impression of something.  For example, a grungy texture by itself may give the original image an edge to it.  Combine that with an underexposed image, desaturated colors or a color balance heavy on the blues, and you have instant moodiness!  It’s another tool in your arsenal to convey a message with your art.

If your intent is to help isolate a subject, rather than direct an emotion, then the texture is applied with a similar mindset as vignetting. You want to use the textures to draw the eye to the subject by creating white noise – which your brain will ignore – throughout the rest of the photo.  The part of the image that is left without texture…aka, the subject…will be the focal point.

The term texture can apply to pretty much anything that you would care to layer on top of a photograph for the aforementioned purposes.  This can be anything from a built in texture option in PhotoShop to another image – bokeh, crinkled paper, patterned fabric, greenery, construction materials…whatever – layered on top of the original photo.

The quick version of “how” is to open your original photo in Photoshop (or any editing software that does layers), and to create extra layers with the textures you want to include.  From there, you adjust the opacity sliders and mask out the sections that you want to leave untouched.  You may also want to adjust things like the warmth and contrast of the image.

There is no “right” way to texture an image.  Just like all other aspects of art, it’s a matter of taste.  You have to find what works for you, and the individual photo.  In this particular case, the intent was to emphasize the cement behind the subject, and to add to the moodiness of the image.  I used both Film Grain and Dust/Scratches options found in PhotoShop.  The image was desaturated and color balanced, and the normal portrait edits were made to remove obvious blemishes, sharpen, etc.

With Film Grain and Dust

With Film Grain and Dust

And for comparison purposes, the image without texture.

No Textures

No Textures

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2 Responses to “The Stanley Cup Playoffs!”

  1. 8teen39 April 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Thank you for this insight. The layers look so natural and side by side helps to see the improvement. Gotta go play with texture, now!

    • seeingspotsphoto April 24, 2012 at 12:55 am #

      Natural textures felt right for this photo, though I’ve seen some great work with obvious texture overlays. When its done well, it really makes an image pop!

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