I love barns. If I have my camera with me, I try to snap a picture of every barn I see. Sometimes, those pictures are just a blur, and I'm forced to delete them immediately. Other times, there are those images with a bit of possibility...Like this one:
I open it in Photoshop, my first step is to deal with the composition. It's not perfectly composed (difficult to do in a speeding car), but it's relatively free of blur and with a little creative cropping, I'll have an image that I can work with:
The next problem, for me, is the sky. It's too gray and flat. Sometimes, that works perfectly when you're doing texture work, but I want more contrast and interest. Looking through my personal stock, I find a shot of sky and clouds that I'm fond of:
I add a layer of sky to my barn image and set the layer opacity to "Multiply" since I want the sky to seem like it's really a part of the image. Using the eraser tool, I erase the parts of the sky that I don't want (on the mountain, barn, silo). Then, I merge the image together:
Now we're getting somewhere...
Next, it's time to start adding textures. For the ease of this tutorial, I am using two free textures that are available from Distressed Jewell. The first texture is called "Moody Fall Sky":
I add the texture as a layer and after playing with the different opacities, I decide on "Overlay." This part is really a personal preference. We'll be doing more edits later that will enhance the choice, so go with your gut:
I really like how this looks, especially the taller, white silo. But I am rarely content with just one texture, so I add one more. This one has a canvas appearance that I really like. Again, it's a free one from Distressed Jewell:
I add this layer, and after playing, I decide on "Soft Light":
Soft Light Layer
Now, it's time to adjust the original image. Click on the original photo in your layers toolbar. Once it is highlighted, go to "Adjust>Brightness/Contrast". I rarely touch the brightness slider, but I almost always adjust the contrast. In this case, I slid it up to +10 so that the lines and shadows would stand out, but not so much that there were gaping black holes in my image. A trick I learned from Distressed Jewell was to do these adjustments after I added the textures so I could see how much adjustment I actually would need:
Next, with my original image still highlighted, I go to "Adjust>Saturation". This is another matter of adjusting to your liking. After sliding the saturation around (take it all the way to 100 for fun), I decide that +20 is just the right amount of color without looking psychedelic:
Finally, because I can't resist, I use a bird brush by Distressed Jewell to add a bird to the wire. A wire is often wasted without a bird perched upon it! Then, I flatten the image and save it:
Ta da! That really is it. I don't have any real magic trips that I use. I just play and go with my gut. I find that simplicity is best. The more complex methods I've tried, the more unhappy I have been with the results. I'm a simple girl. I use simple tools (Kodak Z981 set to sport mode and PhotoShop 7.0). And I get some pretty cool images that make me happy!