Texturize a Photo Tutorial

Well, I did promise a tutorial on GWGT. I did this quickly to show you how to use textures on photographs to give an aged or artistic look to an image. One that you create from scratch. See the finished ‘antique’ postcard below.

Five Minute Tutorial

First we start with two images, one, the base photo, and the other the texturizing image. Our goal is to create an old-time postcard that you can fool your friends into believing you made a great find, at least those friends that know little about photography and even less about antique postcards. It is all for fun. I am showing my desktop so you can click to see the settings I make in Photoshop. Just click to enlarge the images.

Of course what better to recreate an old image than one of Niagara Falls. I will be purposely making this tutorial a little more difficult so you can see a process. Starting with picking an original image that is not in landscape mode and a texture that is. You will see why in a moment.

The texture is a lake bottom with swimming fish. Again, not a typical texture to use, but the color is something we are after for an old world look. What we do is have both images open in Photoshop, then we just drag the texture into the document of Niagara Falls. It will position itself in a layer above the image of the Falls. Simple so far.

Now see that they don’t fit each other? No problem. We just grab the transform handles of the texture and enlarge the image. This allows us to move the image to a better textural pattern. See I enlarged and moved it over to the left. Also notice how the image picked up age with the yellow/orange color. We change the Layer Blending mode to Overlay and it blends with the Falls image below. It still retains the texture too, most noticeably in the sky.

This is how to add textures to photos, but it doesn’t look like much yet, but wait. We duplicate the original layer and change the Layer Blending mode of the Duplicate to Multiply. Now we are getting somewhere.

Getting better with greater contrast and saturation, just like those old saturated printed postcards.  But, this also made some parts of the image very dark. We can fix that with a layer mask. Click to add a layer mask and with the Brush tool, paint black on the mask itself. This will reveal some of the layer below which makes the lower left of the image much brighter.

A few steps below in the Layers panel, you see the layer mask applied. The image below has the area in question revealed. This step becomes unnecessary when we crop it to postcard size though. But masking is another thing you can see the effect, so I did it anyway.

But are we done? Nope. This step will add some real interest. Draw a selection very roughly around the image on the Duplicate layer.

When you have your marching ant selection, we are going to do a step you might not know. Select>Refine Edge. It opens the window below. We push the radius slider all the way up as shown and add a little contrast. How’s this look?

Click OK and what you get is the refined selection. Where did our white go? We invert the selection with Select>Inverse.

Now for the fun part. Hit Option/Delete (Alt/Backspace) to fill the active selection with black. We can’t leave it this way so…

We lower the opacity of the layer to give an aged look and darkened edges. I added a layer mask to this layer to mask some of the ‘frame’ at the top of the image but this is not necessary.  But, we don’t have a postcard yet. So we reduce the size of the frame layer to postcard size. This eliminates the bright blue sky too.

Using this as the overall size, crop the entire image.

In this image below, I first sharpened the image to increase the definition of the roughness. I created a New Layer and filled it with black. I then added Noise to the black layer. Filter>Noise>Add Noise. I changed the Layer Blending Mode to Overlay on the Noise layer and reduced the opacity of this layer. It gives an old film camera graininess to the image. I can further age it with torn edges and paper folds, but I think this makes a nice old postcard. Enlarge to see the graininess, but I kinda prefer it without.

Add some text and you have your Greetings From Niagara Falls. The postcard even has that metallic sheen seen on the ‘period’ cards they sell in the gift shops around the Falls.

Just for fun, I left a big fish swimming across the Falls. I wanted to see if anybody noticed.  Because it is distracting from the image, I would have eliminated this if this really was going to be a postcard. Content Aware anyone? I did on it on the GWGT post Monthly Weather Calendar – March 2012.

Bedding Plants at the Parks

Today we are at the gardens of the New York State Parks at Niagara Falls. The bed above is representative of the more informal of the gardens with its mixed-use planting. They use a combination of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.

The Parks Department incorporates many grasses, annuals and perennials.

This garden above, and the next two below, are at Whirlpool State Park. The images were taken only a week ago.

I often see the workers maintaining these beds filled with a variety of color and texture.

The red feathered cocks comb is used often in beds around the parks. Where Canada uses quite a bit of Canna, here they seem to use this plant for height and color later in the season. Images above and below come from the beds at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center gardens.

The following images are taken at the gardens of the Niagara Falls Visitor Center. Here you visit the 1.5 acre gardens that depict the Great Lakes region above the falls, including grassy areas in the shapes of Lakes Michigan, Superior, Huron and Erie, as well as a walkway that follows the course of the Niagara River. Honestly, this is a bit of a stretch to see this in the shape of the paving and grassy areas, but it is a feature.

From a design perspective, they do have many Burning Bush planted in these gardens. It is pretty at this time of year, but is on the invasive species lists.

 This planting above, is an odd combo and is at the parking lot leading to the Visitors Center.

Like Canada, they also plant a large number of annuals en mass.

I found this peculiar, a Viceroy on Holly. The Butterfly Bush was right behind the holly and every time I got close, the Viceroy would take flight, but return back to the Holly. I did this no less than ten times because I did not understand why it would repeatedly land here.

 Benches are throughout the gardens and they are really pretty well used.

Grasses flanked by petunia are lighted at night.

They edge the beds with granite which I am sure is to aid in maintenance, but I am not fond of this heavy detail.

This is the Visitor’s Center and the image was purposefully shot this way. Here they show an IMAX movie at the Adventure Theater. I never have seen it though. They provide maps and information, have a gift shop and a variety restaurants, including specialty coffees, ice cream, a patio grill and a deli snack bar. Food as you would expect, is quite expensive.

Aerobatics of Lt. Col. John Klatt

It may not be a gardening post, but it is pure art. And I love art of all kinds. “What looks like chaos to the naked eye on the ground is really a scripted, well-oiled machine,” said Lt. Col.John Klatt.

“The No. 1 most important thing when you’re flying is safety,” he said.

There were so many people with their mouths agape at his incredible flying.

The plane preformed like a well choreographed dance. His flying is like art in the sky.

The drops straight down from amazing heights was breathtaking.He had one of the most beautiful planes also. My uncle was a pilot and owned many aircraft. He took me up in a twin-engine and did some of these maneuvers, like flying upside down when I was very young. He was responsible for me being afraid of flying, but it did not take away my appreciation of aviation.“Flying is like a golf game,” Lt. Col. John Klatt said. “It can never be mastered. I can always get better. It takes real dedication to make this performance what it is.”

Lt. Col. Klatt did not need to improve from what I saw, it was sheer perfection. The quotes above, are taken from the interview with the Tonawanda News.

To learn about this American hero of three tours in Iraq, please read the Tonawanda News article by Timothy Chipp, Flying High.