I recently discovered the joy of applying textures and overlays to pictures in Photoshop. Oh my, what fun! Now I know why some blogs have such stunning pictures… postprocessing, baby, it’s the answer to all things.
A texture is just another picture that you layer on top of your own picture, then decrease the opacity of so that your original picture shows through. Sometimes they are just a solid color that adds an emotional aura to the picture; sometimes they mimic the dark edges and blots of a daguerreotype or viewfinder; sometimes they have the texture of linen or canvas.
There are many, many free textures available on the web. Google “free textures” or search for the phrase on Flickr; you will find far more than you can sort through and use. My favorites freebies come from Les Brumes, on Flickr. There are also ones to buy, of course. Like many of the people interested in textures, I have found that the $40 set sold by Florabella are exceptionally good and exceptionally usable. I could probably keep myself occupied with only hers, and they are definitely my go-tos for the beginning stages of photo processing.
There are also tutorials all over the web. Any Flickr group dedicated to textures will have them; you can also google “textures tutorial” to find a plethora of information. The basic process, though, is to size one or both pictures so they fit each other, paste the texture onto a layer above your photograph, change the layer’s mode (usually to Overlay, which creates the most subtle effect), then play with the opacity.
Textures are a great way to enhance already-good photographs, and also as I am finding as I scan in decades-old family slides, pictures, and photo negatives, a way to rescue images that have already begun to deteriorate.