Friday, August 7, 2009

Evolution of Textures

It seems like for the past few weeks I've been posting lots of HDR and Lucis images on this blog. I'll admit, I'm a big proponent of expanding dynamic range either in camera or in Photoshop, but another thing that really interests me visually is mixing texture and mood with a pristine digital image. Those pixels coming out of modern digital SLRs are so good, it's fun to experiment with textures and tones to add some grit and earthiness. The photo above was taken at the Renaissance Festival last fall -- yes, now nine months later I still find myself going back to that folder of images and mining out little bits of clay to shape and mold. Like the others from that day, Larry Patrick and I were shooting with an off-camera speedlight shot through a small softbox. We posed this young woman against a lace curtain that was part of her shop. The light we used was pretty basic, and the resulting shot was also pretty basic. After doing a little digital cleanup on the file -- some skin retouching, sharpening, and eye enhancement -- I added three layers of texture with various blending modes, opacities and masks to get the final look. One of the nicest things about using multiply as a blending mode is how well hair and fine objects blend from layer to layer. I've posted this image at a pretty large size, so be sure to click to see the full size view and look at the individual hairs that can be seen against the textured background. There's no elaborate mask at work here, just a multiply blending mode --impressive stuff, and much faster than masking hair. As I continue to work with textures and pristine pixels, the challenge becomes making the composite seem unforced -- not hammering away at an image trying to make it into something that it's not...part of my evolution as an imagemaker.


  1. Very nice Steve!

    I love the look of digital photos that have the right kind and color of textures added to the background and you're work here is excellent!


  2. Really good job on the textures, however, I would fire your VAL. He should have moved the light a little more to camera left so that you would have a few more shadows, and thus, depth, on her face. You have too much talent to be operating with such a poor assistant.

  3. What a fantastic tip! I have struggled over some images where I wanted to change the background but it never looked right around the hair, no matter how much I kept tweaking the mask. After reading this post I just opened my file and changed the blending mode of the texture layers to multiply and it left all the little wispy hairs visible. Thank you Thank you.