Retro Photo Effect Tutorial - in Answer to a Reddit Thread

Retro Photo Effect Tutorial – in Answer to a Reddit Thread

Posted by on August 13th, 2014

Alexey was browsing reddit (yes, during work hours) and chatted me a link to this thread, along with a “hey, can you do this?” Challenge accepted! Let’s see how close we can get to this effect:

Retro Saturation Original

Retro Saturation Original

 

RETRO-PHOTO-TUTORIAL

The first thing that came to mind was nostalgia for descreening images back in the day, when everything was printed with half tones, and we would always have to scan in a print because the original was lost.

The existing answers about lighting were dead on, as was the tip to add noise… but you need the right kind of noise. Here’s what I did:

I started with this image from Thinkstock:

https://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-picnic-on-the-grass/179869267

https://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-picnic-on-the-grass/179869267

I deliberately grabbed an image without people in it, because their modern clothing would force your eye to see things in the current century.

To start, I adjusted the shadows and highlights to increase contrast and help the edges pop a bit more.

Image > Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights

Image > Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights

Then I added a halftone:

  • Duplicate layer (I am a fanatic about being able to go back a step by deleting a layer, if I ever need to)
  • Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone
Halftone Filter

Halftone Filter

Color Halftone

Color Halftone

 

  • Next, I faded the halftone layer back to 13% opacity
  • Duplicate the adjusted shadow highlight layer and halftone layer, then merged the layers. This gives me one layer that replicates the “scanned” 1950s printed image
Replicated "scan" of image

Replicated “scan” of image

Now let’s  “descreen” the image that we just screened to get that “right” noise that I was talking about.

  • Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur (this reduced the halftone effect)
"de-screened" image

“de-screened” image

Gaussian Blur

Gaussian Blur

And now we just need to play with some color and lighting balance to finish it off.

find-edges

I duplicated my layer again, then Filter > Find Edges on the new layer

Faded back the “find edges” layer to 15% opacity. This bumped up the contrast on the edges of the image only.

Faded back the “find edges” layer to 15% opacity. This bumped up the contrast on the edges of the image only.

Adjusted levels to remove some of the modern colors from the image

Adjusted levels to remove some of the modern colors from the image

Adjusted channels with Hue/Saturation to bring down the magentas and blues that were popping up just a bit too much.

Adjusted channels with Hue/Saturation to bring down the magentas and blues that were popping up just a bit too much.

And voila! We have a 1950s styled image, cleaned up a bit for the “modern” world”!

final

About 

Kandra is influenced in her design by everything from Hubble Space Telescope imagery to the strawberry plants in her garden. Her concepts are known for their characteristic combination of warmth, simplicity and functionality, and for their strong resonance with her clients’ brand and corporate identities.

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