Texture: How to add a little grit to dog portraits

Maremma sheepdog on a log at Plantes Ferry in Spokane Valley

We dog photographers have a bagful of tricks and techniques that we often use to make your images look more interesting.

One is adding texture to an image. I touched on it a bit last fall when Bella and I went to Falls Park for a blog post about contrast in dog portraits.

Texture, according to Discover Digital Photography, can change the way a subject is perceived.

When it comes to dog portraits, texture can be looked at it in two different ways:

  1. The background or environment where we place the dog
  2. The detail in fur

When you have a big, hairy dog like Bella, a Maremma sheepdog with a fluffy double coat, finding texture in her fur is easy.

It’s just there. Like it’s all over my house.

I still like to enhance it with the texture and clarity sliders in Adobe Camera Raw (or Lightroom, if you like).

Keeping it natural

We have such wonderful locations around Spokane and North Idaho to find texture and add great backgrounds to dog photos.

Like the rocks. Many of you, by now, know my passion for #dogsonrocks.

Bella the Maremma sheepdog poses for dog portraits at Rocks of Sharon in Spokane Valley

At the Rocks of Sharon in Spokane Valley

I just love the gritty texture of the local basalt rock, a product of lava flows from a million years ago. (History geek alert!)

There’s lots of ways to add texture to dog portraits, not just rocks.

This is a recent favorite from a pre-Christmas session. Nellie’s pawrents, Rachel and Scott, got a lovely metal print done of this. They adored this image because “it’s exactly the way she looks at us.”

The grass adds a neat element of texture.

rescued pitbull mix in the grass poses for dog photos in Spokane Valley


Also, #pitbullsinsweaters. I just die.

Adding texture in post to dog photos

Now the fun with Photoshop pops in.

Overlays of texture, the aforementioned DDP post says, can “give an image more of a painted feel, and evoke a different feeling to what the plain photo would by itself.”
I’ll never profess to be a Photoshop ace and I’ll leave the expertise of digital painting to my lovely colleague Rachel at Touched by a Dog Photography in Spokane, but I do like to play a bit sometimes.

I added a gritty texture to this headshot of Titan, a gorgeous husky puppy belonging to Shannon and Ryu.

husky puppy with a bowtie


Then I found in my collection of overlays a “glacial” texture to add to an image of Bella. Pull the slider back and forth to see a before and after.

[twenty20 img1=”3496″ img2=”3486″ offset=”0.5″]

Next, I thought, “Oh, hey, snow falling is a whole different kind of adding texture.” I pulled up my Photoshop actions and made it snow.

Bella the Maremma sheepdog in the snow

Making it snow

Snow day for dog portraits with two golden retrievers

Oh but what if there was no need for a winter snow action or overlay?

What if it was actually dumping snow all over Spokane? Well, that’s when you have a session with one adorable eight-year-old named Ava and her two golden retrievers, Mariah and Madison.

Madison just turned one and Mariah is a sweet, white-faced senior at 11.

[FinalTilesGallery id=’2′]


The experts say “never work with kids and animals.”

Balderdash! Kids and their dogs are fun together and families need to have those moments frozen in time with a portrait session, snow falling or sun shining.

If you’re ready to book that session, click this handy button to get to my contact page.

[su_button url=”https://nosesandtoes.com/contact” target=”blank” background=”#ff7200″ icon=”icon: camera” id=”Book Me Now”]BOOK ME NOW[/su_button]

All around the circle

Have you ever wondered where my little subhead ‘All around the circle’ came from? It’s a little touch of home for me.

Y’see, I lived in Gander, Newfoundland, when I was a cub sports reporter back in the early ’90s. There’s an old folk song, I’s the B’y, that comes out of my dreadfully tone deaf mouth whenever I get sentimental about it.

The chorus goes:

Hip yer partner, Sally Tibbo
Hip yer partner, Sally Brown
Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton’s Harbour
All around the circle

The circle is the fishing route around the three towns mentioned in the chorus.

We find family in places other than our blood parents, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. We find family in the strangest darn places, all around our circles.

Some of the good folks in Newfoundland I consider family to this day.

And now I’m building a little family around blogging about dog photography. If you’re new via last week’s post about the blogger challenge, welcome!

This post about texture was a part of the dog photographers’ blog circle and now I ask you to give some click love to Kelly Marcuccio Middlebrooks of Little White Dog Pet Photography in Sioux Falls, S.D.

When you get to the bottom of her post, click through to the next link and on you go, travelling around our world of dog photography.

And when you find yourself back here, you’re home.

Right where you belong.

24 thoughts on “Texture: How to add a little grit to dog portraits”

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  3. Love this – I too shall never be a Photoshop master… to many layer things. But you make adding some depth and touches to images an approachable thing – I’ll commit to re-learning this. I love Bella’s slider images – helps makes things clear!

  4. Even though my photos are on my iPhone I notice a difference in the quality when I take the time to choose the right filter. Love the snow photos. Precious.

  5. Lol….I have blonde hair all over my house too! Bella is beautiful, but those goldens in the snow….beautiful! I wish we had some snow local to here for my white golden!

  6. Pingback: Grey skies: How to deal with blah days in winter | Spokane dog photography

  7. Oh my goodness….TITAN! Great image. Loved the slider and the last image of Bella. All images were great, but the snowy photo session was lovely!

  8. That “glacial” overlay makes such a difference! Is that something in Photoshop? I don’t tend to use it for anything but brightening up photos. Now I want to see if I can make it snow!

  9. What great photos, I have a camera which I personally think is lousy so am saving for a new one as I have to take so many photos just for one good one. Am learning daily

  10. Gorgeous photos! This is a fun concept to keep in mind wven with phone photos. Wish you were local to me, would love a photo session!

  11. I sure enjoyed your textured photos! And now I have a fun folk song stuck in my head …. all around the circle <3

    1. The very witty W.C. Fields said it a long long time ago. He apparently held great contempt for children and dogs. What a wacko!

  12. Jealous of the many textures in your backyard – and the golden retriever session with the little girl? Be still my heart, just lovely. Images to treasure for a lifetime!

    1. Definitely one of my favorite sessions. I was so surprised by the color tones I was able to achieve in camera. I love winter!

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