June 12, 2011, 4:08 a.m.
posted by zloy
The following effects are traditionally done to film, but they've become popular in digital photography precisely because they bring back the nostalgia of film. They can also separate a picture from a bunch of run of the mill images.
Fujifilm made its mark with the famous Velvia film, endearing itself to many photographers for bright, vivid colors. By far, the best way I've seen to create this look is a very affordable (would you believe $25?) automation script from Fred Miranda (www.fredmiranda.com). However, you can do an only slightly less impressive version of the same thing by using the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Just move up the Saturation slider by about 30 percent and then tweak with the Hue Slider (see Figure).
Figure. On the right, Fred Miranda's Velvia Vision provides lots of latitude for tweaking color saturation and extending dynamic range.
Cross processing is a term used in traditional darkroom photography for processing film of one kind (e.g., Ektachrome) in the chemicals usually used for processing another kind of film (e.g., Kodachrome) or paper. The results can vary quite a bit, depending on the specific combination used, but generally end up looking somewhat like the image in Figure. To apply this technique to your image:
Figure. The original image (left) and the result after simulated cross processing.
There are several filters on the market that will create an aged film effect, but unless you do this a lot, it's probably going to be tough to justify the cost. After all, it's not that hard to do a reasonably credible job in Photoshop. You can see the result of the exercise that follows as it was applied to Paddy O'Connor's photo in Figure. It will work equally well when you want to create an old-fashioned look. To give an image an aged look:
Figure. The picture on the right definitely looks as though it's been around for a while. If you want to make it look even more damaged, you could print it, mistreat it with creases, tears, and scratches, and scan it or take a picture of it.
In the liquid darkroom, one of the all-time classic processing effects was solarization. It was done by giving the image half the development time, flashing the image with white light while still in the developer, then continuing development in the normal way. The result was that the image was half negative and half positive. More accurately, the image was part negative and part positive, depending on when and for how long you flashed the white light. The process for simulating that effect in the digital darkroom is even more flexible, depending on the Blend Mode used, whether you change the exposure of the blended layers that make up the effect, and whether you do about a million other things. Of course, the most important of all these things is the tonalities in the image you're processing. Figure shows the original and the result. The process to create this effect is as follows:
Figure. Although the photo on the left is well-exposed and adjusted, the "solarized" image on the right projects an "artier" feeling.
Frankly, the easiest and best method I've found for Solarization is in the Nik Color Efex filter set. You have a choice of either black and white or color solarization and four different methods for each. These filters come in several different sets and edition at different prices; go to www.niksoftware.com for more information.