A talk by Elizabeth Jane Lazenby,  BA(Hons) Fine Art   LRPS  DPAGB  EFIAP  BPE4*  AMPA

Our talk this week was delivered by Jane Lazenby, on a welcome return visit to the Club. The talk was delivered via Zoom.

Jane has won many awards as a professional photographer and artist, and is also a teacher of these skills. She appears to specialise in images of horses and of people, and many of these images display a higher level of post processing than we are perhaps used to.

The topic for this presentation was to allow her audience to better understand the benefits of adding texture effects to images, and the methods that can be adopted. This was an introductory session; she also runs a more advanced course offering further skills tutoring beyond the scope of this talk.

Jane opened the evening by asking the question why we might want to add textures or other alternative backgrounds to our images, and then ran through a short sequence of  ‘before and after’ examples from her work demonstrating just how substantial the possible changes to an image can be.  Jane explained that the effects are generated by layering the original image with other colour and texture layers, in various sequences, to achieve the desired effect.  Whilst Jane was demonstrating using Photoshop, she explained that the same process can be followed using the more budget friendly Ps Elements as well as any other software offering layers blending control.

Jane than went on to describe her ongoing search for suitable textures available in the wider world that she can photograph and incorporate into her texture library. These have included concrete floors, brick walls, canvas, linen, other fabrics, clouds, stained paper, scrunched paper – in fact an endless list.  On occasions she has layered several of these texture images into a single new combined image by flattening and saving promising combinations into new files.  She went on to assert that as photographers we should seek to build up our own library of suitable texture images, rather than make use of the many free images or those commercially available  online.

Jane explained that textures can be used to mask distracting backgrounds or to control burnt out areas, or alternatively can generate an apparent fine art texture effect onto a digital image.  They can indeed rescue an otherwise unacceptable picture. She also suggested that textures are usually best avoided on skin, and are often most effective when the subject and the fine grain of the texture layer are similar in structure or scale. Layers can be adjusted to vary the transparency, so they only affect the darker areas of a given image.

Jane’s advice for those first attempting the use of textures in their images is to experiment, and not to fear failure. Such fear can inhibit the creative process. She then described three basic approaches to using blend modes:-

·        Texture(s) as the top layer, plus a blend mode – the simplest approach

·        Texture(s) as an intermediate layer plus masking, plus a blend mode – more thorough

·        Paint out distractions in an image then texture over that painting, plus a blend mode – described as the faffy approach

She suggested that the first blend modes to experiment with  are:-

·        Multiply – which darkens

·        Screen – which lightens

·        Soft Light  – which adds contrast by gently lightening light tones and darkening  dark tones.

During the second half of the talk Jane demonstrated, often using club members images, by editing live on screen to show how the texture images are brought in as transparency layers into a stack of images. Then a suitable effect is selected by scrolling down the various blend mode options to see what result they have on the final output – by hovering over each blend mode in turn. 

The effect of the different blend modes can vary from very subtle to extreme, and the same blend mode can generate a very different effect between one image and the next.  The position of the texture layer in the stack can also have a significant effect on the final image.  Multiple texture layers can be incorporated into a single image.

Some layers can in incorporated into the final image with an associated mask, to allow selective control over what is displayed  in order to focus attention on the key part of the image.  Finally, texture layer opacity can be adjusted throughout the stack as necessary to increase or decrease its final effect.

There was too much information in this talk to faithfully reproduce it here. Jane has a significant online presence where example of her work can be found, and a YouTube channel that provides guidance on many of the techniques described on the night.  Links to these websites are included below .

http://www.ejlazenbyphotography.co.uk/

 

(EJ Lazenby Photography channel)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHco8CBk90XiLTJCBdB3qwg

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