I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

Anatomy of An Image, Week 2

I thought this week I'd try something new. First, here's the image.

ISO 100
Focal Length: 55mm
Shutter Speed: 1/640 of a second
Aperture: f/2.8
Lens: my 17-55 f/2.8 IS which hardly ever leaves my camera, honestly
Time of day: late afternoon, facing west

So this is some bouganvillea I encountered on a walk home, with some nice backlight happening. A nice image, sure, but not groundbreaking. Any flower with light coming through the petals is going to have some visual interest. Below is another image I took on the same afternoon, with the same light, except that I took this one facing south. (Side light for texture, remember? I went a little crazy with that theory on this particular afternoon.)

My plan for this image of paint peeling off a garage door was never for it to stand alone as an image, although there is certainly some visual interest there. No, I took this for the sole purpose of using it - gasp - in PHOTOSHOP. You know it, that tool of the devil and overzealous magazine editors who use it to prune models down to toothpick size, removing and adding body parts at their will. 

Well, I had a similarly nefarious purpose. I planned to take the texture layer, and then overlay it on the picture of the flower, to add a little more visual interest. Now there are plenty of tutorials out on the web on how to do this - if you can use PS it's pretty easy. Here's a quick and dirty:

Step 1: Open both files. I was lucky, I shot both with the same camera and both were uncropped so I didn't need to do any resizing. This made step 2 super easy.

Step 2: Copy the texture and add it as a separate layer on top of the flower. You shouldn't be able to see the flower any more - oh no!

Step 3: It's ok, we can bring the flower back. If your texture is colored in any distracting way you should switch the blend mode of your texture layer to Luminosity. In my case, I kind of liked the subtle yellow, so I left the blend mode at Normal. Then bring the opacity of the texture layer waaaaaay down. I mean, almost so it's not there any more. I'm not kidding, mine was finally at 3%. But then I'm a fan of subtle. And it depends on which texture you use as well, I'm sure.

And you end up with:

Subtle, right? But a bit different. (Feel free to sound off in the comments and be like "Jessica, I do not see a gosh-danged difference at all!) Back when everyone and their grandmother was overlaying textures onto their images I was a little skeptical. But now that the fad has died down a bit I feel like I can experiment without being part of a fad. And that's so important to my self image, you know?


  1. I really like the effect of textures on certain images and this is one of them. Nice!
    I assume you masked out the texture on the flower?
    What about making the texture shot available in full size? I would love to add it to my arsenal:)

  2. I've been taking texture pictures for this same reason although I think the first picture is beautiful in its own right and the paint picture has a sort of modern art quality to it.

    xo Erin

  3. Great choice on the photo and the texture. Like you, I've found that when you do a very subtle texture like this it enhances the background without effecting the main POI. I'm not sure if it's because of the focus or the light. I'd have to do some more playing to figure that out.

  4. i love the step-by-step how to. i am def a failure at PS. loving texture.

  5. Thanks for all your lovely comments, You can download a large size of the texture from my Flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/37068913@N07/5096155860/.

    Please let me know if you use it, I would love to see someone else use it on another photo!

  6. Oh, and I didn't mask it out on the flower. At such a low opacity there was really no need.

  7. Nice choice of texture Jessica. I usually use wall or paper texture but looks like a peeling garage door works fine too :)

  8. I like the subtle effect of this texture. The pairing is perfect.


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