Neil September 4th, 2008
Let’s talk about texture
In response to my release of the Light Touch beginner’s textures, we’re about wisdom here
Can you see what’s happening when I added the texture in the first image?
Can you quantify it in your mind?
If not I recommend taking a read of the classic text “Perception and Imaging” to give yourself a strong backbone in realizing the subtitles and abstractions of what you see.
But let’s try and put our finger on it for a moment with the end in mind – what does a texture do for an image?
In the first image I composed the shot with a piece of the ceremony decor in focus with the bride’s head in the background but out of focus. The sharp objects are perceived by our eyes as the subject – the blurry or soft things are the ground – upon which the subject ‘rests’ or ‘resides’. Without separation there is nothing.
So what happens when a texture file with small sharp details is introduced?
In the texture file that I used from the Lighting Overlays Disk 1 set, a focal plane runs through the image with the texture of paper in sharp focus. In this image where only one small object is in the focal plane the texture adds to the perceived depth of the image by adding more ‘figure’ to the figure/ground relationship. It appears as though the crystalline beads rest on something as they sway in the breeze.
The second image of the diptych shows the opposite point of focus, but has the same exact texture applied to the image. Even with my best blue sky photo processing tricks, I couldn’t help the bride’s face rise in perceptual value without some additional lightening or darkening of the sky. I chose the blue texture file and applied it in overlay blend mode which darkened the sky while increasing saturation. Here’s the image as it looks straight out of camera raw.
Interesting perspective, but not the same dramatic picture energy as the finished version. The lighting overlay helps channel the image’s tones into a dramatic and emotionally engaging corner burn (compare the top and bottom right. The cooling blue effect helps the skin-tones rise in prominence and the overlay blend mode deepens the shadows and brightens the highlights for a stronger dimensional feel to the hazy sunlight.
I hope this discussion brings you deeper understanding on your path to visual wisdom!