One of the coolest things I learned to do when I got Photoshop last year was to digitally layer textures with my photos. Textures are just photos or digitally created pieces that you can blend in with your art or photos to create a completely different feel and look. My favorites tend to be ones that make my photos look aged, like canvases, or old photos.
I pulled together a few of my photos to show how easy texture work (simply copying and blending in any texture, lightly, in Photoshop) can change the way it comes across....I'll also share where some of my textures come from! Note: there are thousands of ways to use texture, and these below are just some simple layering techniques. You open your file and the texture both in Photoshop, copy and paste the texture over your photo, and blend away. Use any blending mode and switch up the opacity to make the effect less dramatic if you wish. I sometimes layer multiple textures for different effects!
Above: an older photo that I really loved but was a little bored with (again!). In Photoshop, I used the magic eraser tool to "cut out" the pelican from the sky, then flattened the image so just the pelican was showing against a white background. Then I layered in this patchy, light turquoise texture in the background. I added a sun flare in the corner to emphasize the sunny day feeling and add some interest, then applied a "sunlight" texture in the corner where the sun is. This light, buttery yellow texture made the white light look more like sun and gave the photo a lighter feel.
Well, those are just some quick and easy ways that texture has helped me, and I love experimenting with them, using them as overall layers, skies, backgrounds for animals, and so on. I find them mostly on Flickr, searching for "free textures" and making sure the ones I download are available for creative commons use. Here are some resources:
Joy St. Claire - My fave! Joy is a wonderful photographer herself, but her textures are fabulous! She has textures to suit landscapes, still lifes, add a vintage feeling or enhance a plain photo. I used many of them in her Moderne set in my examples above.
Life N Reflection - Kristy not only sells her awesome textures, but shows you how to use them, too. Her blog is an awesome resource for texturing and digital photo work.
Textures for Layers - a wonderful Flickr group! I've used and donated some textures from this group. Be sure to check the privacy settings and allowances before using a texture and be nice and share your creations afterwards- the creators of these textures do spend lots of time and creative effort making them!
Spectrum Textures - you need to sign up, but there are some great grungy and industrial textures here. It's free.
2Textured - another free site where you may find still life objects and nature landscapes to add interest to your art or photos.
I'm developing a pack of textures that I made myself as well....I'll be sure to share as soon as I have it put together! :))