Get Your Grunge On

 Fairlie Atkinson

Have you wondered how some photos manage to give off a grungy vibe? Or have you looked at a photo and asked yourself how they have managed to create texture in a shot that would not ordinarily have it? The answer is by using editing software.

Grunges are different to filters as they are an overlay that you pop onto your photo during editing. A filter is what you use when you’re shooting. If you’re of the Instagram era this may confuse you, as you add the filter after you take the shot. What this is doing though is creating a photo that looks like it has been shot with that filter already in place on a camera.

A grunge is an overlay to provide a textured look to your images.


It’s quite easy to find copyright free grunges online. If you go to WikiMedia Commons and type ‘texture’ in the search bar you will find a plethora of textured free images of wood, grains, and grunges that are free to use. You can also find free grunges on Pixabay and other commercial sites but you have to sign up and then the emails don’t stop!

I downloaded a brown distressed concrete grunge from WikiMedia Commons and popped it onto an image I took of a gannet at Cape Kidnappers. The grunge enhances the yellows and browns in the original image and gives it a nice texture, not only does it look good on the screen, it will print really nicely on a canvas for a unique piece of home décor.

Here you can see I have popped the grunge as a new layer over the gannet. I will enlarge it until the entire bird is covered by the grunge, then choose a blend mode, change the opacity and then erase parts of the grunge that cover the bird that I don’t want. We will look at this process in more detail in the next part of this article.

Read the full article by Fairlie Atkinson in Issue 53 of NZPhotographer magazine.

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