November 9, 2013

Photo Challenge - Layering Textures

It’s time for A Personal Photo Challenge! “Layering Textures” is the theme this month. And I am sharing two images with you today that have been transformed with textured layers.

A Personal Photo Challenge

I have dabbled with applying textures for the past few years and find that it is a great technique to add a little extra zip to a photo. My digital inventory includes a couple hundred different texture files, and interesting new ones get added on a regular basis.

We spent a couple of days on our Montana trip last year cruising through the Flathead Valley area near Kalispell, Montana, on the hunt for great old barns. I spotted this picturesque scene of tall pines and was intrigued by the contrast of the freshly cut wheat field and the mountain backdrop. You can even tell which way the prevailing wind blows by the slant of the trees!

To make the composition more interesting, I would have loved for the sky to include some nice puffy clouds. But traveling photographers have to take make the most of the conditions that Mother Nature dishes out. With an uninteresting sky, this image was good a candidate for a texture layer.

I wanted a canvas type of texture and couldn’t find a suitable one in my digital inventory, so I created one in Photoshop. I added this texture to the entire image with a soft light blend mode and opacity set at 80.

And here is the final result.

When we were wandering around downtown Kalispell, Montana, we found a beautiful old church. I composed one photo with a mature spruce tree in the foreground of the steeple. Though it was about high noon on a sunny August day, I planned to transform the image into a nighttime scene, suitable for the Christmas season. Yeah, I’m wacky like that!

This is another example of a blah blue sky that could use a little help. I used two texture files in my transformation, stacking one on top of the other. The first texture is a dreamy blue haze (from Lost and Taken), and it was applied with a multiply blend mode at 83% opacity.

And the other one is a dark, starry night texture (sorry, I don’t recall the source). I applied this with a hard light blend mode at 100% opacity.

I spent some time masking off (i.e., removing) these textures on the tree and the church steeple. And below is the new “Christmas” version of the image. It turned out just as I imagined it on that summer day in Montana!

Now that you’ve seen my photos and read my post, I hope you will visit A Personal Photo Challenge blog and check out the creative efforts of other participants. Thank you so much!


  1. Donna, you are such a pro at masking. I have a really hard time removing textures. I usually end up taking away too much. The steeple picture is just beautiful. I absolutely love the stars you added. The trees a gorgeous as well but the steeple just screams "WOW". Awesome job, as always. Hope you all are doing well.

  2. Oh, and the Lost and Taken link....oh my word...I think I'm in heaven. I'm in the process of downloading the whole site. :P

  3. Alright now Girlie!! The steeple night shot makes me want to get into the car and start my Christmas shopping!!!Hahaaaa
    That's called realism!!
    Beautiful, one and all....

  4. Your photos are always so spectacular and this just takes them to another level of perfection. I love the very first one. I put a weave on mine sometimes but always fade it to make it barely noticeable. I'll try what you've done with darker and heavier this effect! The Christmas effect would be a beautiful Christmas card. I'm off to follow the link, too! Thank you!

  5. That Christmas card you created is so beautiful and my favorite. It falls into the theme I find myself thinking about so often: Keep looking up... I have a folder filled with these upward sorts of views, but no pretty backgrounds.

  6. Both of your textured photos are beautiful...but that church steeple takes my breath away! What a stellar example of what can be done with textures. I had no idea.

  7. Donna, I am having a ball with this challenge and learning sooooo much. You photos are beautiful and now I know there is a think called masking. I think I'm hooked!!
    I love the steeple shot.

  8. really nice! you are definitely well-versed in applying these. you make sure they compliment the original photo rather than take away from it or overshadow it.

  9. Beautiful work. The church steeple especially is just amazing!

  10. Miz Donna, your photos are excellent before the texture is applied so adding your tweaks makes them MOST excellent. I love the first one with the few lone trees and mountains behind. The blue sky and harvested wheat field only adds to the beauty.

  11. Donna, you are so talented with photo editing (and photo taking.) Love how you've transformed a blue sky into something more. And masking! I don't get how to do that quite yet, but I'll work on it.

  12. Hello dear Donna
    It's so interesting to see how you apply your masks and layers.
    The end result of the Church and steeple makes a beautiful image for Christmas.
    I'll have a look at Lost and Taken now - thank you Donna!
    Shane xox

  13. I like the texture on the first photo, makes it look like a print and the church steeple turned out amazing. Wow, what a transformation.
    This was a really fun challenge, thank you for hosting.

  14. Donna your photos are always wonderful to start with and then you take them to another level. Like them both but the steeple shot is spectacular. As Judith says- What a transformation! Puts me in the Christmas mood- even without any snowflakes showing... lol

  15. Interesting are amazing.
    Love what you did with the first shot.
    I thought I read the second shot was Montreal, and I was thinking there should be snowflakes on the tree!!
    All too much for me to even think about atm,
    with all my shifting and unpacking.
    Maybe this time next year!

  16. Both are great but the second one is my favorite. I love both of the textures that you used for that and wow what a difference that makes.

  17. I love what you did with that church photo! Beautiful.

  18. Your creativity amazes me Donna. Both images are beautiful, but the church scene is extra spectacular.

    Be well, be happy :)

  19. So many layered photo textures take away from the real subject of the photo. I love how you always know just the right ones to ADD to the real subject. Very pretty, indeed....

  20. Hi Donna, I haven't done much with textures --but George has played with them some. However, your last photo showing that steeple with the dark background is FANTASTIC.

    Hope you two are having a nice weekend.

  21. Holy cow...I'm loving the affect you gave the church steeple, it's beautiful! I'm going to build a file for layers too, this post is inspiring...enjoy your day!

  22. Beautiful images and what you did to enhance them even more is fabulous - like everyone else, the church steeple shot is literally brilliant! I love Montana, especially the Flathead Lake area where we arrived one year just in time to join in the Raspberry Festival. Seeing as how they are my favorite berry, you can understand that I was in heaven sitting by the beautiful lake eating a gigantic cone of fresh-churned raspberry ice cream - best ever!!!

    Love the texture challenge Donna - now if only I can stop wanting to texturize everything. Told Bob not to stand still as he may be crosshatched or grunged next, LOL!

    Hugs to Mr. Jim - hope the two of you are enjoying a lovely weekend.
    Looking forward to opening the mailbox this week, many thanks again dear.
    Love, Mary

  23. i am learning so much here !
    I love what you did with the sky behind the steeple.

  24. This is fabulous, just like everything you do! Kudos my friend. I always learn so much.

  25. I love steeples and yours is wonderful. I think you and I should tour around and find steeples around the country. You could teach me all your 'secrets' so mine would look as wonderful as yours!


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