Create an Antique Photo

© Article and photography by William Manning

Vintage photos have always had an appeal to me. Maybe its because they tell a story from years before my time, or maybe it’s simply the look, worn, aged, discolored and simply old. Whatever the reason I like old photos. I have experimented with lots of techniques and will share one of my favorites. Keep in mind as you read through this simple technique, step 4 is a critical step as it gives that soft look you might find in most old photos. Simply going straight to the black and white conversion may not work.

Lady3

Before venturing into creating your antique photo the subject matter is important in pulling the effect off. A modern skyscraper, or a new automobile simply won’t work for a believable photo, after all, my goal is to make it plausible. I have photographed several civil war re-enactments over the few years and found these type of subjects are perfect for that old photo look.

Make It Plausible

Topaz ReMask

Step 1: Select a subject that could have been taken years ago. In my example I am using a photo of a young lady dressed in attire dating back to the Civil War era. As you can see in the photo (example 1) the background has a tent and other elements that distract from my subject therefore I have decided to drop the girl into a new background. I used Topaz ReMask to remove my subject from the background and placed the cut-out into a new environment as seen in example 2.

Alien Skin Bokeh

Example 1

Example 1

Step 2: You should have two layers at this point, the background layer, in my case the grasses and tree and the second layer is the cut-out of the civil war girl. Select the background layer and soften or blur this layer so the background does’t compete with the subject. I used Alien Skin Bokeh for this effect. Alien Skin Bokeh is a Photoshop plug-in and a great tool when you need to create a soft focus effect.

Step 3: You can now flatten the image by going to the Layer pull down menu and choose Flatten Image. I suggest you duplicate your image after you flatten it so you can back track if needed in the next step.

Nik Color Efex Pro 4

Step 4: Now you want to apply a Glamour Glow in Nik Color Efex Pro 4. Go to the Filter pull down menu in Adobe Photoshop and go to Nik Software and then choose the Color Efex Pro plug-in. Play with the sliders in Glamour Glow until you get your desired effect.

Example 2

Example 2

Step 5: Open your photo up in a black and white conversion software. I used the Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. Once opened up in Nik Silver Efex you have lots of options but I happened to choose Vintage and used the Antique II preset as this gave me the antique look I wanted. Play with the sliders to get your desired look. Anytime I want the antique look I play with the grain as film back in the day had lots of film grain and in my mind this is what gives it that artsy and old time feel.

© Article and photography by William Manning