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The Art of Flower Photography

Lesson 11 of 16

Add Textures To Photos In Post Processing

Kathleen Clemons

The Art of Flower Photography

Kathleen Clemons


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Lesson Info

11. Add Textures To Photos In Post Processing
Dive into post-processing in this lesson, as Kathleen explains how she gets some of the painterly quality her work is known for by adding texture in Photoshop. Learn when to determine whether or not an image needs texture. Explore different software options.

Lesson Info

Add Textures To Photos In Post Processing

In a lot of these images, you have seen that I added texture, so I want to talk to you a little bit about my best practices and when I add a texture. Okay, both of these have textures added to the background. When I'm looking at an image and deciding if I want to add texture, for me there has to be a large empty area. I wouldn't put texture on a full frame flower. I want the texture to be on the background, not on the flower. And I use it when I look at an image and I feel like it just needs a little something or I want to add more movement. And I especially like painterly textures so that it adds the softness and selective focus of my image is sort of a painterly look anyway. So a painterly texture adds to that. I don't choose textures with strong lines because when we talked in the beginning, flowers are about line and color and shape and texture. So you don't want competing lines. You want the lines of the flower to shine. Here is one of my calla lilies without a texture. And it's f...

ine like this. It's beautiful and it's an older shot and I loved it before I even knew about textures. Great focus on that amazing curve. And then here it is with a texture added. It just adds a little something. I want something subtle to the background. I don't want the texture to take over. And here is one of my textures. I started a line of textures. I have three collections now. And they're all in black and white. And I can use them on black and white photos or I can use them on color photos and they won't change the color of my background which some will. And here is that texture with a dahlia bud. And I do remove some of the texture from the flower. I don't use the eraser tool. I use the brush tool and I vary the opacity of that brush. So you don't want the flower to look like it's stuck on the texture. You don't want to use the same opacity all around. The areas in focus I'll do 75% to 100%. Take that off. And then as I move further away from the area in focus, I'm lessening and lessening the opacity to 15 or even seven around the edges. And the same with the stem. I want the stem to blend into the background. So I don't want to erase it all off. But the beginning of it, I'll erase, not erase, but I'll paint the texture off and then stop that as I go down so that it blends right in. And here's another one with one of my textures. And I changed it to sepia in Macphun's Tonality Pro. Macphun's Tonality Pro is my go-to black and white conversion software. And one of the best things about it is it has a texture component. So you can add the texture right in that software and it comes with a set of textures or you can direct it to one of your own textures on your desktop, which is how I use it. Like to use my own textures. And it's very simple to use and you can do it as a layer so that you can erase it off. One of the most wonderful things about Macphun is that I can just paint the texture on where I want it instead of thinking about removing it. I can only add it where I want. And it's only for Mac users though, not for PC users. It's wonderful software, and that will be listed in your PDF as well. This is a texture by Flypaper Textures. And their textures are painterly and my favorites. If I don't use mine, I'm generally using... This is Brushed Rose from Flypaper. And here are two images, one without the texture and one with the Brushed Rose. You can see that it also sort of makes the background a little more cohesive. And I just masked it off the foreground petals and let it stay on the rest. If there's an area of the flower out of focus, I'm generally leaving the texture on it or even maybe taking a little bit off, but not much. 'Cause I don't want to draw your eye to an out of focus petal. I want your eye to stay on the petals in focus. My favorite software to use. And I use Photoshop. I'm not a Lightroom user. I like Nik, the Nik collection by Google. And my two favorite filters are Color Efex Pro and Viveza 2. Color Efex Pro 4 has a wonderful selection of filters. And now and then you'll get an image and you just don't know where to go with it for processing. It needs a little something, and it's really nice to be able to go through a large list of presets and try different things. And you may end up taking that image in a totally different direction than you had initially planned on. Viveza 2, I love because I can do selective edits. When I need to lighten or darken a particular area, I can just set a control point, lighten, darken it, add a little sharpening, change the color of it without a complicated mask and a brush. And it's wonderful software. For black and white, as I mentioned, I use Macphun's Tonality Pro. Nik also has a good Silver Efex Pro black and white convertor. But you can't do the texture part. And I'm using that a lot now. When I add textures, I use a program from Get totally Rad called Dirty Pictures. And all this information you'll get. So you don't have to worry about that. What this does, it's a way of adding textures to your photos that's sort of automated. And it comes with a set of 18 textures, and you can add your own to that as well. And so you open a picture and you open totally rad and it will show you your image with those six textures applied to it. Because sometimes you're not really sure where you want to go with a texture. Do you want all warming texture? Do you want one that's not gonna change the color? Do you want an all over design? And so it gives you six right away. And then if you don't like those, you hit the next page. And I have like 54 pages of textures at home. And you can create your favorites and those will open first. So my favorites are always the ones that I check first. And then, if you say okay, that you've chosen a texture that you like it has already put on a new layer for you and started a mask. So then all you have to do is grab your brush and erase, take the texture off the areas you want. But what I love most about it is the variety. Instead of individually having to try a texture and going now that one doesn't work. Now I want one... It's quick, saves me time, and that gives me more time to shoot. So, I love that. Russel Brown also has a free texture panel that you can download. And I'll give you the link for that. And it works in a similar way to Dirty Pictures. And it won't cost you anything, and it'll go, add right to your Photoshop CC. And for a painterly look, Topaz Impression came out recently. And I find it is a beautiful addition to a flower image. I used it for this. And Topaz Impression let's you turn your image into a painting. And if you do it at 100%, it's not really going to look like a photograph anymore. And if that's the look that you want, that's okay. But my best advice to you is to go easy on the sliders. It doesn't automatically add the painting effect as a layer. So I make a layer first so that that Topaz effect is going on a layer, not on my original. That way I can pull it back and I can also erase it off of areas where I don't want it, or I don't want as much effect. I can selectively edit it after that. Because you can, right in the program, reduce the effect, but not afterwards. Once you've said okay, it's on there, it's a layer, your original is done. So think about that. Here is a peony that I shot recently in my garden. And this is without the Impression painting software. And here it is with. So I like just a little bit of softening. And if an image is too busy, it can really simplify it a little bit. But like I said, make a new layer, and go easy on the sliders. Not 100% anytime. So when you say make a new layer, are you duplicating your layer? Are you putting a blank layer on top of your original? I'm just adding a new adjustment layer. I just hit Ctrl + J. Just for a new layer. It's quick and easy. And I really wish they would build that capacity in there. With the Macphun software that I was talking about you can, it doesn't automatically add a layer, but you can add it in the software, you don't have to do it ahead of time so that you can make selective changes and erase effects off of different areas. And it also has wonderful presets.

Class Description


  • Choose the right macro lenses
  • Build the ideal photography gear kit
  • Find (or create) the best light for macro shots
  • Know where to place small objects in the frame
  • Set the correct aperture and exposure
  • Master close focusing with depth of field
  • Confidently capture macro work of any type of flower


Flowers are the perfect subjects for both beginning and professional photographers alike. Not only can they be found almost anywhere, but they offer a wide range of colors, textures, and shapes to explore and experiment with. But as perfect as flowers are for photography, the dominance of similar pictures makes it hard to capture a unique image.

This course takes you on an in-depth journey into the glories of flower photography, with expert photographer Kathleen Clemons as your guide. You’ll learn everything you need to know to take captivating shots that will wow your audience and celebrate the beauty of nature. Learn how to take flower photographs that stand out.

In this class, you'll learn how to spot the best flower to photograph with your naked eye, whether you want to capture artistic or documentary images. The flower will become the star of the shot as you learn to eliminate distractions in the background. At the end of the class, work confidently with fields of flowers and single flowers, at each stage in their life cycle.

Whether you have a Nikon, Canon, Sony, or mirrorless camera body, Kathleen will show you all the essential tools of flower photography, from macro lenses to plant clamps to extension tubes. She’ll cover technical details such as aperture settings and your depth of field, as well as stylistic issues such as composition, backgrounds, and close-up or macro shots. The course ends with a demonstration of a real shoot in a garden so you can see Kathleen in action as she takes different angles and close-up images of different flowers and flower petals.


  • All levels of photographers interested in macro photography.
  • Photographers who want to learn how to shoot close-up images of small subjects.
  • Photographers who want to better understand special equipment for shooting macro and how to deal with difficult lighting situations.


Kathleen Clemons is a nature photographer known for her painting-like images of flowers. The Maine-based photographer works with Corbis and Getty images. While she's known for her photography, Kathleen also has a degree in education, which she mixes with her passion for flower to teach other macro photographers.



What a fantastic class! Kathleen Clemons' presentation was well-organized and offered exceptional how-to advice along with actual gear and beautiful slides which demonstrated her points. I felt as though she were talking to me personally and truly wanting me to be successful. Her explanations of technique, accompanied with video of her in the gardens using the camera was very helpful. In addition, I found her critiques most enlightening, and I learned a great deal about how to improve my own images from them. In short--this was an exceptional class, and Kathleen Clemons is an amazing teacher. I have watched the class twice and plan to purchase it for continued review and reflection. Anyone who wants to photograph flowers artistically needs this class. Thank you, CreativeLive, for this wonderful presentation by Kathleen Clemons.

Julianne Carlson

Thank you Kathleen for taking the time to share your wonderful knowledge and technique's with us through this 5 star course. Your breathtaking ethereal images are a true inspiration and I can't wait to get out there and practice with my new Lensbaby velvet. Not only was this course a wonderful tutorial for photographing flower subject but much of your instruction can be used when photographing all of nature. This is the best Creative Live class I have taken yet!

a Creativelive Student

Kathleen Clemons is a wonderful teacher who communicates a powerful passion for flower photography. I learned so much from her about how to see and capture the beauty of a flower using macro lenses. As I launched into this new area of photography, I felt equipped and free to experiment and learn and grow. As I looked through the viewfinder of my camera, it's almost as though Kathleen was right there with me - I saw how to focus in on one area of the flower, then another, and change aperture settings to impact the depth of field, and experiencing the intricate beauty of God's creation. The ultimate moments for me were the images captured as a result of everything I learned. I highly recommend Kathleen Clemons as a teacher and this amazing class, The Art Of Flower Photography. Review by Catherine Martin