Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Good Ol' Days?

Antiqued Store Fronts

The texture image that I posted yesterday inspired me to try something that I had been thinking about for sometime now. I have been taking photographs of interesting textures so that I could use them as elements in other projects or images. For instance, they could make an interesting background for other photographs in a photo-book, or they can be used as layers in other images. The last is what I did with today's "photograph". Hit the jump to read more about it.

I started with a photograph of storefronts taken in downtown Spartanburg. Shown below:

Store Fronts

I opened a copy in Photoshop and converted it to black & white using an adjustment layer. In the B&W adjustment layer, I darkened the reds and blues to get some more contrast and pop to them. I also added the sepia tint, but selected a lighter tone than Photoshop's default as I thought the default looked to ... well, bad. Then I added a Curves adjustment layer to lighten the image overall to get the highlights closer to the blown out feel you see in old photograph. Finally, I added an edge vignette using the Lens Distortion filter again to get a similar effect to what is seen in vintage photographs.

With the photograph of the stores itself converted the way I wanted it to be, I turned to adding the in the "damage" effect to the image. I did this using the photograph from yesterday's post of the decorative stonework. The veining in that image looked to me like the water damage you might expect to see in a mishandled vintage photograph.

I opened the stone work photograph in Photoshop. Next, I selected the entire photograph using Ctrl+A and pasted it into the Store Front image as a new layer on top of the other layers. Of course, the stone photograph now blocked the store front photograph. I blended the two of them together via the opacity, fill, and blending mode settings. Initially, I set the blending mode to Overlay, then dropped the opacity down to about 40% and the fill down to about 50%. The effect seemed close, but not quite right. As I looked at it on my monitor, I released that one problem was that the veining in the stone work was white on a dark background. This gave the opposite effect than you would expect. To correct it, I selected the stone work photograph again then inverted it. This changed it to dark veining/streaks on a lighter, mottled background much closer to what I was wanting from the texture overlay. From here I just played around with the blending mode, opacity, and fill settings until I got an effect I liked. In the end, the texture uses the Hard Light blending mode, an opacity of 20-25% and a fill around 50%.

This was really just a quick trial intended to familiarize myself with the process. I like it though. I'll have to keep this technique in mind in the future. The only way that you really learn tools like Photoshop is to play around with them. Preferable when you don't have an important deadline breathing down your neck ... although that can certainly be a learning situation as well. ;-)

Keep shooting.


Pixel Peeper said...

Wow - very neat, and very creative! OK - I need to know: just how much time did you spend to get to the final, antique-looking picture? It sounds like it took hours and hours (at least I know that's what it would take me)!

Craig Lee said...

Thanks. :-)

It took about 15 to 20 minutes total which includes stepping back to look at it and decide if the changes were what I wanted. Of course, it helps that I've been reading up on Photoshop and have a general handle on it's interface, tools and terminology now. It is applying them at this point which is the tricky part.