Make Modern Photographs Vintage- With the increase in popularity of vintage events, 1940’s weekends and re-enacting seems to have led to a trend for ageing digital photographs and trying to make them look like period images. To help photographers who want their photographs to look like film from the 40’s here are a few tips to make modern photographs vintage
The first problem is image quality. Most modern digital cameras handled correctly produce images of significantly higher quality than than their equivalent from the 1940’s. My method of knocking down the image quality is to take my original image, size it down by 50% or more then interpolate it back up to its original size. This can still leave the image too sharp if it is I use a blur filter to soften the image further.
Next desaturate the image but desaturation alone tends to give a harsh and crisp black and white, which leans towards having a blueish tinge. Using colour balance tools to add yellow (or remove blue depending upon how you look at it) and add red will allow you to get a warmer tone that you can make look anywhere from a natural looking black and white through to a sepia tone.
Now add the film grain effect. Create a new layer which will need to be in overlay mode or similar with 100% opacity of middle or 50% grey. On this new layer you carry out two steps.
First add noise, how much will depend up how grainy you want your final image to look, again I start around 50% however make sure the noise is monochrome, there would be no colour noise in a 1940’s B&W photograph.
Second step is to blur the noise so it looks less like sharp dots and more resembles real film grain Gaussian blur is my preferred choice usually around 2 or three pixels.
At this point it’s worth comparing your manipulated image with genuine pictures from the period to make sure you have a reasonable match for colour tone and softness before merging the layers and moving onto cropping.
I prefer to crop either the 3:2 proportion of 35mm format or the square format of 6×6 you could also use 10×8 but a give away that your image may not be “period” would be to crop it at A4 as this probably would not have been a popular shape of the time unless you are going on to mock-up a period magazine cover. Once cropped its time to add a white border I add a 10% border relative to the cropped photograph This can be done by using something like the “Canvas Size” tool in Photoshop or you could just create a new plain white image document in your editor then drag your manipulated photograph into the middle. Once the border is sorted for that final touch of authenticity you can use a softening tool like adobes blur tool to soften the really hard edge between the beginning of the image and the white border and really make modern Photographs Vintage.