Using Textures to Enhance an Image

Let’s face it, as photographers there can’t be that many of us who haven’t screwed up that “once in a lifetime” photograph. You know the type I mean. You’re on holiday (or should that be vacation) in a country you’re never likely to visit again. You’ve got seconds to take a photograph of some iconic building/statue and you screw it up for whatever reason. C’mon admit it. It’s happened to nearly all of us at some time. I’m luck to have visited Hong Kong twice now but I’ve only ever visited Lantau Island the once. On the day I went to Lantau Island, the skies were grey and overcast and it had been raining since early morning with heavy squally showers. Time was limited at the Tian Tin Budhha and as the weather did not look like it was going to break it really was a case of taking the photographs and then trying corrections later in Photoshop. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.


In the image above the background is pretty boring and over-exposed. The good thing is, the subject matter, the statue, is in focus and exposure is about right. I could try to do something with it in Photoshop, maybe adjust levels etc, but I won’t really be able to do anything with that background, unless I substitute it with something else…and that’s where textures can make a difference.

For some time now I have been experimenting with textures to give some of my images that grungy “old photo” look. In my mind’s eye the one above looked an ideal candidate for the grungy texture treatment. Anyway to get back to the textures. What exactly am I talking about? To give you an idea, here’s an example from the Flickr Group “Textures for Layers” , a group dedicated to sharing textures and the techniques for using them. Membership is open to everyone who has a visible, active photo stream on Flickr with at least two original photos or photo-based images. The group has rules, not only for your protection, but, also for that of the contributors. Therefore, you should make sure that you read them before downloading any texture you may use. Shown below is a texture from Pareeerica who has submitted a wide variety of textures to the group.

Now when I say download that doesn’t mean”fill yer boots”. There are some restrictions on use, and so, as always I recommend that you check the usage license for any file you download from the internet.

To achieve the look of my final image I used two textures Antiksol5 and Go2 made available by JoesSistah, and one called Seeing Spots from Pareeerica.  These textures were added as layers with different blending modes and opacities. Here’s a screenshot of the photoshop layers palette to show what I mean.


That about wraps this blog up. To find out more about using textures visit the Textures for Layers group on Flickr where you can find hints, tutorials and loads of examples of using textures to enhance your images. Oh! I almost forgot. Here’s the final image.

6 thoughts on “Using Textures to Enhance an Image

    1. Hi Steve

      Thanks for the comment. I’m going to be doing more of these as the months go on. Next one is probably going to be about HDR but trying to achieve the more natural look



  1. Hi Mike
    Wonderful blog. Thank you very much for choosing my texture & for showing me your Blog. 🙂
    Kind regards


  2. Greetings to you Mike,
    Congratulations on an excellent article – wish I had the time to follow this up in detail but I,m ashamed to say with one thing and another I have,nt had time or opportunity to get out with camera since June…would seem your going from strength to strength, power to your elbow. all the best.


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