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A Very Basic Guide to Textures

First off what do textures do? Well, things like this…

music-mountains
drive-in-liqour

yellowstone

Some are more subtle than others, obviously! So how do you add them to your photos? The easiest way is to use textures that other people have created. Some are free and some you need to pay for but either way this is what you need to do with them once you’ve downloaded them:

1. Open both the texture and the photo you want to edit in Photoshop. Click on the photo and check it’s dimensions.

2. Change the dimensions of the texture so that it’s as close to the same size as you can get it ( you can uncheck the constrain proportions box if you need to).

3. Still with the texture selected (rather than the photo) press Ctrl+A or Cmd+A (or go to file, select all) and little running lines should appear around the texture.

4. Press Ctrl+C or Cmd+C (or go edit, copy).

5. Select the photo and press Ctrl+V or Cmd+V (or go to edit, paste). The texture will be pasted over the photo so all you’ll see is the texture and not the photo underneath. Don’t worry you’ll bring the photo back in a moment!

6. With the texture layer still highlighted select the opacity in the bottom right corner of the layers tool box. Move the opacity from 100 down towards 0 until the texture looks the way you want it.

And that’s it! It’s pretty straight forward. Play around with a variety of images, textures and opacities to see what you like best. You can put more than one texture on one photo and you can still do other bits of editing such as converting to black and white, playing with the levels, or adding the built in Photoshop filters.

Here are a few sites to for some free textures to get started with:

Essence of a Dream (on Flickr)

CG Textures

Texture Warehouse

Gallerie 1 – this one’s in German but simply click on the blue links at the top of the page to browse the textures.

There are literally hundreds of other sites too, try searching Google or Flickr for “free textures” and you’ll find no end of choice. Remember to check the terms of use, some are royalty free others are under creative commons licenses of various kinds. So have fun, mess around, and let us know in the comments if you find a favourite texture!

Bored with photo magazines

I just received an email from Amazon with an offer of 83% savings on photography magazine subscriptions (use that link if you’re interested and Photodoto will get a small commission). With magazines and newspapers closing their doors left and right this year, who knows if you’ll actually get all 12 issues.

But it reminded me that it’s been a long time since I’ve bought a photography magazine.

I still browse the racks at the book store but I’m less and less likely to actually pick one up. 5 hot portrait tips! Shoot better photos instantly! 8 new cameras reviewed! Upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade! They all seem the same.

I was pretty happy with my D70 for years. And, while the articles can sometimes be helpful, I don’t think there’s any such thing as a “recipe” that will give you a good photo every time, as the magazines will lead you to believe.

Do you read or subscribe to any photography magazines? Any recommendations out there for someone who is tired of hot tips and shopping guides?

Black and White with a Splash of Colour – iPod style

redflowerOne of my most frequently commented on posts is the little tutorial Black and White with a Splash of Colour. Well, I’ve just discovered a new super easy way of achieving the technique for those of you with an iPod Touch or iPhone. A little, at the moment free, app called ColorCanvas which couldn’t make it any simpler to create black and white photos with a little colour. I’ve been playing with it on my iPod Touch and it works pretty well. You simply import a photo from your library (or take one if you have an iPhone) and ColorCanvas will convert it to black and white automatically. Then wherever you touch on the screen turns back to colour. It takes a bit of practice to be accurate with the edges but you can vary the brush size and zoom in on the photo to make it easier. There’s the option to vary the opacity too.

I’ve just downloaded a whole bunch of free photography apps for my iPod and I’ll be trying them out on the 8 hours of train journeys I have this weekend so I’ll let you know if any good ones turn up. If you have any favourite photography apps for the iPod Touch/iPhone let us know in the comments.

History behind the “Lion / sidecar / wall of death” photo

lion on wall of death You may have seen this photo (at right) recently. Like many people, I’m sure, I found it incredible, difficult to believe, and inspiring. Just the act of sitting next to a lion takes a certain bravado. Even “tame” lions are caged—in fact, the last “lion drome” was closed after a lion bit a drunk carnival worker. Biting, it’s what those big teeth are for.

So I did a little research and dug up these resources. The first link is from Sidecar Pete. He seems to have been the one to find the photo in a shop and post a digital photo of the photo online. Pete was also fascinated with the photo and linked to a New York Times article on Walls of Death from 2006 and to Thrillarena.com’s pages about lion dromes (Thrillarena Lion Dromes 1 and 2). A site called Dark Roasted Blend also has a brief history of walls of death including lion dromes with lots of great vintage photos.

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