Playing with Photo Textures

Seagull photo

The seagull photo was combined with a freeware texture to produce this op-art effect.

I haven’t been doing much work with Photoshop lately, and for that matter, I haven’t done much photography since I’ve come back from vacation last fall. It’s too easy to get back into the work grind, you know? Traveling makes me want to take pictures, but it’s hard to be a tourist where you live. You simply stop noticing the kinds of things that make for good pictures because you’re too focused on the daily things in life.

Still, I launched Photoshop — I’m still on version CS — and did some playing. I wasn’t trying to make anything in particular, so there was no “wrong” image. In the above photo, I used a texture image that came on a CD from It’s the radial lines combined with the grunge effect. I layered it over my photo of the seagull and adjusted the opacity. I also had to resize it and move it around so that the seagull would be at the center of the circle. I used the eraser tool to remove some of the texture that was directly over the seagull so he wouldn’t look too messy.

It’s not a work of art — I don’t expect to make an enlargement and hang the photo on my wall. There are some areas around the bird that could use some tweaking and there’s a white line at the top of the image that looks like a huge scratch. But the more I look at it, I realize that not every image needs to be perfect. This one was simply a playful experiment that I did so I could get motivated to do some creative work. An art studio instructor I had long ago told us to take our charcoal and draw a big, dark line across our entire sheet of paper. It dispelled the “blank page” syndrome. Apparently, artists get this block just as much as writers, so I guess it’s possible for photographers to be afflicted with it, too. Take some “junk” photos and just play with manipulating them in your software. Add colors and textures, combine images, and don’t worry too much about what looks right. Just have fun, and if you come up with anything really interesting, post a link to it.