When editing my images there are a few things that I have done to ALL of them before I start on any aesthetic alterations.
Because all my photos come from different times, different cameras etc they are all different sizes, from jpgs to tiffs, also the dpi is 72 on most but some are 300dpi. I am editing them for use on the web so I know they should be 72dpi, I change this in Image> image size. As for the size, I use the Zoom tool to make the image the size of my screen, or slightly smaller, as this is the size is it going to be when I put it onto my website. Taking note of the % it is at when its the right size, I then go to Image> image size and in the ‘pixel dimension’ box I change it to % and alter the numbers so that is it the same as what it was on my screen, so for example this image was right at 100%
Then pressing ‘OK’ I know that it is now at the right size for use on the web.
Copy Background Layer
The second rule of thumb I do to each image before I start editing is make a copy of the background layer, this insures that I have a original unedited copy to use say if I make a big error half way through editing.
Now I am going to start editing each photograph. On some images I do a number of different editing techniques, but I will only explain each different technique ONCE. For quick reference each technique is in bold and underlined…
I have used a ‘layer blend’ for this image which means I am using two different images and then choosing a blending option which will combine both images so that they will both be seen and blended together. I chose the second image to use as a textured image, it has scratches, dust marks and also different tray tones, all of these textures are realistic of what a old negative can easily become like if not looked after. So I brought the textured image into the workspace as a new layer, then in the layers box is the layer blending options which looks like this:
Each layer blending option as seen here as very different results to any of the others so I scroll through them all previewing them one by one. I have chosen Hard Light for my layer blend.
Layer blending is so great because each two images used will create completely different results, then changing the options as seen on the left gives many more different options for your image. Its a great and easy way to get dramatic results. It uses opacity to blend them together so that both images can be seen on top of each other.
Using the second image which already had scratches are part of its texture is one way of putting them in, but I am also going to do some by hand in this post ….
Layer Blending with three images
For this effect I found two images I wanted to use as well as my photograph, I first of all made it black and white (Image> mode> grayscale), then brought in the two new images. I chose a very scratched textured image from the internet, and also a orangey yellow texture which is of a piece of paper, this is what they look like together…
The colour comes from one textured image and the scratches from the other, I have played around with the layer blends until I get what I want, which is a much more contrasty picture. I have used two layer blends, one is ‘Divide’ and the other ‘Multiply’.
Next I am going to try a few more techniques on the same image as I am not 100% happy with either of the edited photos I have done yet, I feel that the latter is too textured and mucky, but the first one does’t have enough textures or contrast so I am starting from the original again…
Adding Film Grain
The original image is a digital photograph, so I am going to add in some a film grain effect. This is a filter available on Photoshop, so I go to Filter> filter gallery. This looks like this:
In the ‘Artistic’ folder I have selected ‘Film Grain’, this brings up the options for ‘film grain’ on the right hand side. Altering the ‘film grain’, ‘highlight area’ and ‘intensity’ until I feel happy with how the image looks, I can see the effect instantaneously on the photograph on the left hand side of the screen. Traditionally film grain is not something you can see, unless you have enlarged a image greatly or taken the photo at night, so I have chosen a subtle effect and used the ‘film grain’ at number 2.
I am going to use the Action tool, this is a fantastically easy way to use a technique or effect without having to do it yourself. Actions allows you to record what you are doing, then ‘play’ the actions you did previously again, on a different image. Photoshop already has some actions built into it, and I have found one that is perfect for this project, turning my image to sepia tones. Sepia is a traditional way of adding colour to black and white images before colour film was invented. Traditionally it is a chemical toner that once the print has been developed, fixed it is then put into the toner, depending on how long you leave it in depends on how strong the sepia tones attach to the print. It is a beautiful and subtle way of adding colour to photographs, but as I am digitally enhancing mine I will use the sepia effect in the Actions.
I have selected the ‘Sepia Toning’ then I click the play button at the bottom of the Actions box and Photoshop takes over and does all the work for me…!
It is important to remember that this was made for a lot of people to use, so to take control of this effect I have opened up the Hue/Saturation layer that Photoshop made in the Action and tweaked the colours slightly. I hate the idea of all photos looking the same mandatory sepia tone because if these were real prints from a darkroom (which I am pretending they are), they would all be slightly different so although this action is useful I am also alter the tones each time I do it. It is also important to know all the different ways of changing a image from colour to black and white. As a photographer this is obviously one of the first things I learned in Photoshop and there is the ‘wrong’ way and the ‘right’ way. I am going to do a separate post on these different techniques to turn a image into black and white without loosing any detail, also I will explain how to change a image into sepia tones manually as well.
I am going to add some scratches as I feel that this is a realistic way of making a photo look old. Instead of using a image and layer blends like before I am going to add scratches using the Brush tool. In the image below you can see the scratches I have added, I chose colours with the Eyedropper tool that were already in the image to use as the scratches.
I also used the brush tool to write out the date as this was commonly done for the photographers reference. I actually took away some of the scratches as I felt that this was too much (see left image has too many).
Then lastly I felt that the colour saturation was all too intense and also the scratches so I changed the opacity for all the layers until I felt it looked right.