Almost anyone taking a photo that they wish to share want the image to grab the attention of the viewer and keep it there. If the photographer can reach out and pull someone into the image, he or she has certainly created something special. Of course there are many ways to accomplish the goal with subject, poses, lighting, etc.. but one relatively simple technique can work for the newbie photographer or the accomplished pro. By adding a subtle texture to an otherwise bland background can sometimes enhance an image.
While it is certainly possible to buy a variety of backdrops, this can get rather expensive after a point. Searching out the ideal location that has a background that does not distract from your subject and yet compliments can be a VERY time consuming process. Adding digital textured backgrounds is a relatively easy process and almost any photo editing program that supports layers will work. Textured backgrounds are readily available from many places on the internet both paid packages and free backgrounds. One site that offers inspiration and free backgrounds comes from Brook Shaden's website Promotion Passions which not only offers free textures, but also inspiration for projects. Brook not only provides the textures, but an easy to understand tutorial on how to use these images for your projects.
Here is an overview of this process in photoshop, however I would strongly recommend viewing the video for additional details.
1- Open the image that you wish to edit. In most cases, the background should be smooth to give the best blend.
2- Select a textured image. In most cases, you will want to start with a B&W texture so that it does not contaminate the colors in your original image.
3- Copy the texture onto the image (SELECT..all; EDIT..Copy.. EDIT..Paste)
4- You may have to resize the texture
5- Change the BLEND mode to "soft light". This blend mode will most often give you the most natural blend.
6. In most cases, you will not want the effect of the texture on the subjects skin. Add a layer mask to your original image. Since the layer mask is white, you will want to paint on the layer mask with black (black conceals). Paint over your subject until the texture is removed from the skin and clothing.
This completes basic steps. In my image, I added color to the texture and changed to opacity of the image slightly. This technique is reviewed in the webpage Textures .
Textures can add an entirely new dimension to images that you thought may have thought were just ok to make them outstanding!
Bob Barford is a award winning published photographer based in Pennsylvannia