In case you don’t live in the DC area, it’s winter here now. The days are shorter, the light goes faster, and there are only so many trips I can make to the National Arboretum or client gardens in search of new images. Today we even had some light snow, but too late in the afternoon to make venturing out with my camera feasible. (Maybe tomorrow.)
So recently I’ve been experimenting with some techniques in Photoshop to add a little warmth and light to some older photos in my way-too-large image library. (Nothing like a 300 MB PSD file to clog up your operating system’s speed, right?) Here’s a 2009 photo of three tulips, taken in my dining room, where I didn’t have to worry about wind but where the light conditions and background were less than optimal.
And here’s the “after” shot:
How did I do it? With the help of two “texture” files from Flypaper Textures, called ‘Sakura Skies’ and ‘Tempest Seas.’
In Photoshop CS5 (I just upgraded to CS6 but this technique should work with almost any version of the program, or in Photoshop Elements as well), I used ‘Skies’ as the first layer over the background image, set the blending mode to ‘Darken’ and reduced the opacity of that layer to 80%. (I then used a layer mask to make the edges of the tulips a little clearer.)
Then I added the ‘Tempest Seas’ texture file as another layer, changed the blend mode to Overlay, and set the opacity to 70%. With a final Curves layer adjustment to darken some of the lighter areas and lighten the tulips, I was finished. (For a good online tutorial on blending, click here.)
These texture packs I bought aren’t cheap, although with a little looking around you may find some discount codes to lower the purchase price. But they are very high quality, large images (400 px square at 300 dpi) that have enough variety in each one that you can move them around until you get the effect you want.
If you look online, you may also find some free textures to use, including on Flickr – but be careful to check what rights have been reserved or requests made of potential downloading before proceeding. You can also make your own by taking photos of skies, water, grasses, crumpled paper, or anything else that you think might work. This is all about experimenting, and it’s very much a matter of personal taste.
I’ll close with another image of mine, from the Arboretum last fall, where I thought the use of some textures enhanced the overall effect (the textures are Heather and Necropolis, again from Flypaper Textures).