Friday, November 12, 2010

DIY: Vintage Photography Tips, Part 2

Mary Veterano Photography

Do you love vintage-looking photography with those soft colors and yellow-blue-red tints? Good. Do you like to take pictures? Good. Today I'm continuing the second of a three part series on how to get the above look, or similar, with your photos with different kinds of techniques and photo-editing software. Now don't fear, I have researched free tools and websites that will allow you to get very close, if not better, than the image above I have produced with Photoshop.

I have been doing this for years and years to my photos, I've always been obsessed with color and have experimented with different ways to tweak my photos to evoke the mood I want to create. It's very easy to do and it creates a beautiful result!

Before we begin I want to include a list of editing software and free tools available to you.

Adobe PhotoshopCS5 - this is what I use
Adobe Lightroom - this is what I use
Adobe Photoshop Elements - your best bet for using Photoshop without all of the bells and whistles, and for a fraction of the cost
Pixelmator - Most affordable
Corel Paint Shop Pro - I used to use this

Free Tools:
Photobucket - New and improved editing features
Pixlr - Very similar to Photoshop and should be able to follow the tutorial closely
Picnik - Easy to use
Photoscape -
Paint.NET - Very similar to Photoshop and should be able to follow the tutorial closely
Picasa - Google's photo editing tool

Vintage Effects: Part 2, Advanced Techniques - Curves + Selective Color
For this tutorial I will be using Photoshop, but do not worry - I will include examples below each section for how you can create these effects if you don't own Photoshop.

***Important***: Every image is different! There are different colors, different lighting, and different subjects. Because of this I do not use exact number/setting examples when I write tutorials so that you can experiment and begin to understand how an image works and what will work to get the end result you want. Experimentation is important!

Step 1 - Preparing the image:
Mary Veterano Photography

  • Open your selected image(s) in your editor of choice. I'll be using a picture of an awesome classic car from a mini-car show. If you are in Photoshop, make sure you unlock your layer! (Window->Layers->Drag the lock icon to the trashcan icon)
  • If your image is dark or the white balance is off you're going to want to make it brighter. Create a brightness/contrast layer (Image->Adjustments->Brightness/Contrast) and adjust the brightness settings to make the image brighter. Not too much brighter, just give it a little extra something. I added about 30% brightness to mine.
  • Other ways to adjust the brightness/contrast settings include adjusting the exposure and levels (both under Image->Adjustments), experiment with your image settings.

    Step 2 - Adjusting Curves:
    Mary Veterano Photography

  • Add a new curves adjustment layer (Image->Adjustments->Curves). When the window opens you will have the option to adjust the RGB channel. When you add a positive output it will make the image brighter, and if you add a negative input it will make the image darker. With the drop down menu go through each channel - red, green, and blue and adjust the inputs. Add positive inputs to all of the color channels you want to emphasize in the image. For example, I want to emphasize red so I add positive red input of 65/100 and a negative input of 190/200 to pull back the red where I don't want it. Then I add positive blue input of 50/70 and a negative input of 195/175 to create that vintage tint. Negative blue creates a yellow tint, negative green creates a magenta tint, and negative red creates a COLOR tint. This creates the overall tint for the image.

    Step 3 - Selective Color + Saturation:
    Mary Veterano Photography

  • Now that we have our colors adjusted we want to make certain colors pop and dull other colors. Add a new selective color adjustment layer (Image->Adjustments->Selective Color). Selective color adjusts specific color temperatures and tones. Use the drop down menu to select which colors you want to adjust. For example: I adjusted the settings for the reds, yellows, cyans, whites, neutrals, and blacks. The whites, neutrals, and blacks adjust the brightness/contrast in a similar way to the levels adjustment layer. I wanted to make the red, yellow, and cyans pop so I adjusted the colors to reflect positive red (lowering the cyan, and adding magenta, yellow, and black for saturation of the red). Experiment with the settings to see the potential in using selective color.
  • Add a saturation adjustment layer (Image->Adjustments->Hue/Saturation) and add a positive saturation input if you want a more vibrant image of the 60s and 70s, or if you want that soft vintage glow then put a negative saturation input. You can also drag the sliders to experiment with the effect you want.

    Note: You can combine the techniques described here with the techniques described in the first part of this series, which is what I usually do. To create the final image from the before/after example I added a solid-color cyan layer set to screen at 10% opacity as well as a magenta solid-color layer set to screen at 10% opacity.

    Other Site Examples:
  • Curves + Exposure: Available in Photobucket, Pixelr
    Mary Veterano Photography Photobucket, (under geek tab)used curves
    Mary Veterano Photography Pixlr, used brightness/contrast, hue/saturation for color balance, and solid color layers.

    This concludes part two of this three-series post. In the third part of the series I will show you how to do some extra effects, like a vignette, to add little vintage touches to your images.

    I'd love to see what you come up with!
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