Lovely Decrepitude


What is it about peeling paint, cracked glass, roughened brick, rusty surfaces, that is so appealing from a photographic standpoint?

My personal interior design aesthetic is sleekly modern. I am surrounded by contemporary furnishings – cool gray and aqua, smooth glass, stainless steel, light oak. We collect art glass pieces – cut surfaces and modern lines; reflective color and prisms of light.

I am attracted to modern steel and glass architecture – for its reflective, refractive properties; its geometric lines and shapes; the way it interacts with the surrounding environment, mirroring clouds and sky. Triumphs of engineering. Cool, sophisticated beauty.

And yet, my photo archive is filled with examples of lovely decrepitude – the broken, the forgotten – succumbing to the elements of time and weather. Things with history and character, well-worn, with a story to tell.

Perhaps we all have these contradictions inside – these dichotomies of taste and attraction – that have us seeking both the old and the new; the sleek and the disintegrating; the crumbled and shining. In our search for images and stories, we piece together narratives from the world around us, in all its distinct and varied aspects.

So, I will embrace my internal Jekyll and Hyde and continue to shoot it all, the whole kit and caboodle. Whether textured or smooth; cracked or gleaming; peeling or glossy. Those things that attract my eye, just because they do.

Texture Tuesday Processing Steps

  • Ran my midtone contrast action which uses the high-pass filter to bring out texture and contrast
  • Duplicated the original image, Soft Light blend mode to boost color saturation
  • Processed the “Coffee Shop Storybook Vintage” action
  • Added the Cracker Jack texture, Linear Burn blend mode at 75% opacity.
  • Using dark gray, masked the texture on the weathered boards to lessen the impact

I have fallen in love with the Storybook Vintage action from the The Coffee Shop Blog. It adds a subtle vignette and delicate sepia toning to your image. Rita has an amazing collection of freebie actions, textures and other digital design goodies so I encourage you to check out her site.



Posted on September 20, 2011, in Photoshop and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Very beautiful editing. I love the look you have created.

    • Linda,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting – I do hope that you will come by again. This image just seemed to call out for additional texture treatment.

  2. I don’t know what it is Brenda, but I do know for sure that I understand it. As my kids say…”Mom is out taking pictures of dead flowers and condemned buildings!” It’s gotten to be a standing joke inthis house, but it is so true!

    • Lisa,
      Oh, your standing joke – that is so great! Sums it up perfectly! Sometimes we just can’t explain the why – we just know that the attraction is there.

  3. I love that image. I’m all about texture both in material things and images so that’s what I find myself instinctively drawn too.

    • Kathryn,
      Yes, texture is a very large component of my attraction to photographic subjects as well. And then to enhance it even further in post-processing…it doesn’t get any better than that.

  4. Brenda, I love your image — the processing brought out the textures and contrasts so well! Decrepitude attracts my eye too, I imagine the story behind the decay. Please continue to embrace that internal J and H.

    • Gina,
      Ahh, a fellow lover of decrepitude (isn’t that a great word?). I’m still not sure I can explain the attraction but I suppose explanations aren’t necessary – we simply follow what our eye leads us to and all the contradictions that may involve

  5. I love the textures and colours of old peeling things too, I used to spend much time taking pics of that sport of thing when I was training in Interior Design!!!

    I really love your image, the composition and treatment work so well.

    • Ruth,
      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting – I really do appreciate your input and hope that you will stop by again in the future. We can continue to share our love of peeling paint.

  6. Ah, another story in the making. I wonder who lives there and what just happened behind the boarded-up, screened-over window of that lovely decrepitude.

    • Lisa,
      I don’t doubt that you could write a wonderfully magical story about the goings-on behind this window – something secret and mysterious, perhaps? I don’t “see” the story when taking the photo – it is usually only upon review, during post-processing, that story possibilities emerge.

  7. Just love love love the word decrepitude !!! Haven’t read that in such a long time, and sometimes I feel that word would describe me!!! Very lovely photograph and thoughtful essay. I totally agree with you, lets embrace it all. Who wants to narrow down life! Very well written and love what you did with your textures, etc. Smiles; sharon

    • Sharon,
      I’m not really sure how “decrepitude” popped into my head (I probably found it in my trusty thesaurus) but it just seemed to sum up this image. I still wonder at the range of my photographic attractions – but you are so right – why narrow down life in all its extremes? It all has something to teach us and give us as creative fodder.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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