One of the most common uses of textural overlays is to enhance landscape photography. Textures add depth, flavor, and feeling to landscapes, and can even make a sunny day stormy—depending upon how far you, the artist, want to take things. The learning goal of this video is to know how to use textures to enhance landscapes in a number of common scenarios.
- [Instructor] Landscape photography can be a great place to use texture overlays. Textures are great for helping to make artistic landscape visuals that transcend the literal and work in the realm of the imagination. Textures can also help to finish off a landscape that has something but needs that little extra touch. Some landscapes are made for textures, others don't work so well. On the other hand, consider that many images have natural earth/sky divisions because that's how our landscape works.
We have landscape and a sky. Well the same thing can be true of textures so if you match a texture that has a separation that could be the earth and the sky from one another, it can work extremely well. Also, you wanna look for texture files that are really natural in the kind of colors. As an example of this, you probably don't want texture files that have strong typography or have artifacts in them that are clearly not landscape oriented, human made or hard made edges or some of those wonderful textures that have things like letters on them and things that you can tell don't really go in a landscape.
So let's take a look at an example. I photographed this view of the Misty Foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California on a sort of foggy late afternoon in October looking towards the west. So I like all the separation and layers that the mountains make in this image but it's not quite powerful enough to pack a punch. So I'm going to add a texture namely Acqua Alta from Flypaper's August Painterly Collection and see what happens when I add it.
So of course when I'm viewing it at normal 100%, I don't see my landscape but what happens when I start taking down the opacity? Well, this is beginning to be interesting. I like this very much. So we're now in the realm more of a Chinese or Japanese scroll painting than the literal landscape that one saw before. Let me try adding a second texture because often a second or a third texture is what really makes the difference between pretty good and really something special.
This one is Blueprint. So let's see what Blueprint looks like at different opacities. You know, it doesn't do a whole lot for me. But how about some different blending modes? Overlay is one to look at. Not bad but it's still the same kind of idea. Let's try, oh now difference is very interesting but not at full opacity. Do you see what's beginning to happen in the sky of this image? Let me take down the opacity a bit.
Okay maybe in the 50% range, something like this. Now what you see here is something that works very well for the top of the image but not the bottom of the image. And this is a common situation with landscape photography. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna add a hide all layer mask. Layer, Layer Mask, Hide All. And I'm going to use my gradient tool from white to black to paint in the part of it that I liked up at the sky like this.
Alright, now that is really beginning to be something because the depth in the image is significant and colorful. What I think I might do looking at this is take down the opacity of the difference a little bit more. I have it at 57% just for a little bit of extra subtlety, maybe at about oh 50, it really looks great. This is an image that I could print on something like watercolor paper and be very happy with.
Using textures to create a sense of an exotic place is a great way to go but what happens when you have something like an empty sky? East of the Sierra Mountains in the great country of Range and Basin, there's nothing much but dessert and dust, an occasional road, telephone wires stretching into the vanishing point of the distance and maybe an occasional car on the lonely road. This image gives a good sense of that but the sky is empty.
This becomes a common problem with landscape photography. You may have an interesting image of the land and not the sky. Sometimes of course, the problem is reversed but let's take this situation in front of us which you're gonna find in a pretty big percentage of landscape photography. So I'll start by adding a texture, namely this pastel alloy and let's see what happens.
So I could take down the opacity in normal mode, that's not bad but I'm losing punch here. Let's try overlay. Oh my, that really adds something to this image. Really makes it much more special, much more like a painting. Do you think I could even do better than this? Maybe. So let me try adding this sort of metallic mimesis with big brush strokes.
Well let's see. How's overlay blending mode, you can see I often reach for overlay first, hey that's really not bad. Maybe get a little darker, multiply but you surely don't want that at a 100%. It's one of these things where sometimes something that doesn't look so good at 100%, if you take it down into this kind of realm, it isn't bad. But once again, what I'm gonna wanna do is I'm gonna wanna do a gradient mask so that you can see the sky but not the earth via the texture.
So I go Layer, Layer Mask, Hide All. I have a nice black layer mask and I'm gonna go from white to black with my gradient and I'm gonna simply draw a gradient starting at about the midpoint of the sky and going enough over the horizon line of the earth so that the blend of the two seems fairly seamless. Alright, again I think I might like to adjust my opacity a bit downward once I see it but I'm now very, very pleased with this image and I'd be happy to make a print of it probably on something that's more like a photographic paper.
I believe that landscape photography can be one of the most creative and wonderful kinds of photography. I certainly consider myself a landscape photographer. And I love to use textures in the way that I've show them to improve the graphical quality of my landscapes. Approaching textural overlays is a tool for adding drama to your landscapes and is a way to add a mythic dimension to them. Is great for taking your photography into the next dimension.
- Using blending modes, masks, and selections to build backgrounds
- Creating and sourcing backgrounds
- Creating effects with textures
- Adding textures to portraits and landscapes
- Licensing textures
- Creating texture-based effects on the iPhone