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Photographer of the Week: Lucy Loomis

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  July 21, 2010 04:05 PM

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There's so much to like about Lucy Loomis's photos: The dramatic manipulation of depth of field on her close-ups, her experimentation with light in both daytime and night shots, her playfulness in shooting everything from toys to words. But it was her use of textures that most intrigued me and that I asked her to make the topic of her POTW essay.

4 Boats

4 boats by Lucy Loomis
1/60 sec. at f/13, ISO 400, focal length 55mm
Texture by Cat Hair Studios and StewBl@ck

By Lucy Loomis
Cape Cod

I stumbled headlong into a love affair with photography last year. I had purchased a digital point-and-shoot, and started out innocently enough -- taking pictures of the kids, the cats, the flowers in the garden. Then one day I took some photos of a dramatic, cloud-filled sky, and that was it. I was gone, head over heels. Within 6 months, I had left my point-and-shoot behind and purchased a DSLR and several lenses.

I immersed myself by reading everything I could get my hands on about my camera and the art/craft of photography. But most importantly, I took lots and lots and lots of shots, trying out new techniques, and playing with all those camera settings that at first seemed like a foreign language but gradually began to come clear. And magically (you fellow photographers know what I'm talking about) I began to experience the world in a whole new way. Everything -- even the most mundane -- seemed (and still seems) fresh and light-filled and achingly photographic.

I carry my camera with me everywhere, every day. I shoot with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel Xsi. I use the 18-55mm kit lens, the 50mm f/1.8 (my favorite), and the 55-250mm zoom lens. I walk and hike a lot, so I feel most comfortable carrying as little equipment as possible. I shoot in natural light. I don't carry a tripod, but have been known to prop my camera on a rock or fence. I do my photo editing on an old, slow computer that won't run Photoshop, so instead I use the online photo editing tool Picnik as well as Picasa.

Bamboo Rain

Bamboo Rain
1/250 sec. at f/1.8, ISO 200, focal length 50mm
Texture by pareeerica

I find myself particularly drawn to the small details of everyday life. I get excited about old things: historic buildings and houses, chipped signs, things with age and character. Also sky, water, the slant of sunlight, and night photography. I'm not a super-sharp-focus, hyper-realistic photographer. I prefer to shoot with the aperture wide open -- if it's a windy day, even better. I love what light and motion can conjure up in a photograph.


1/50 sec. at f/4, ISO 400, focal length 50mm
Texture by pareeerica

Because I like old buildings and history, I became intrigued with the work that my fellow photographers were doing layering with textures. I was drawn to the vintage effect that textures can convey.

I also found that textures could alter color in interesting ways, and change the mood of a photo. They can give depth and dimension to a flat photograph. I quickly discovered that even the best texture can't disguise a bad photo (trust me, I've tried), but it can enhance a good one. Laying a texture over a photo isn't enough -- the choice of blending style and editing technique determines the success or failure of the final image.

Floating By

Floating By
1/800 sec. at f/5, ISO 200, focal length 45mm
Texture by cleanzor

I use textures on maybe one-quarter of my photographs. I experiment with layering effects until I find just the right balance. My personal preference, after lots of trial and error, is that less is more. Texture work -- like HDR or other techniques -- can be an acquired taste, and doesn't appeal to everyone. I try to use it selectively, and with purpose.

And More Clouds

And more clouds
1/4000 sec. at f/3.5, ISO 100, focal length 18mm
Texture by DigiDi

You can buy textures or create your own, but there are also thousands of free textures for use available on Flickr, generously shared by their creators in the various Flickr texture groups like Textures for Layers. (Ed. Note: Other popular texture groups on Flickr are Textured Tresors, Textures, Textures only, Best Textures, and textures and patterns.)

I consider the texture work I do to be a true collaboration. An important part of that process is to give credit to the creator of the texture. Many of the creators ask also that you share your images with them so they can see how you've reinterpreted their work.

So how do you add textures to your photos?

In Picnik, upload your photo and a texture, drag one image on top of another, and play with the layering tool, curves, and other effects until you get it just right. Here's a 50-second video showing how easy it is.

For Photoshop, here's a good explainer on DPS; again, you drag one image on top of the other and then use the blend mode on the layers palette.

The magic that can happen when working with textures, combined with the collaborative process is, to me, what makes texture work so compelling and intriguing.

To see more of Lucy's textured photos, visit this full-screen gallery.


Mirror Mirror
Lucy Loomis lives on Cape Cod with her two teenagers. She is director of the Sturgis Library, a historic public library and research archive in Barnstable Village. She is the author of two blogs, A Little Light Reading and The Elegance of Words : a 365 Day Photo Journey.

(Texture by borealnz)

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