Saturday, May 23, 2009

Photoshop - Vintage Seventies Style

For the most part, I prefer to keep my photos as natural looking as possible - that is to say, after post-processing, I don't want them to look much different than what I actually took the photo of. This is especially true of landscapes, photojournalism and nature photography. However there are some photos that look perfectly fine as crisp, untouched images, but might look even better with a little photoshop magic.
The topic of "photoshopping" can be quite controversial, and I plan to go into my own thoughts on that at a later time. But controversy aside, the use of photoshop to change a modern, digital image to look like something that came out of a film camera in the 1970's, for example, can completely change the feeling of a photo. The viewer is transported back to a time and a place, maybe given a sense of nostalgia from their own past. Usually when I take a photo, I already have an idea of what feeling I am trying to convey. Take this photo (SOOC-straight out of camera) I took out west, somewhere on the road between Colorado and Utah.
The open land, the tractor, the big blue sky, all give you a feeling of being on a road trip across the American West. But after a few tweaks in photoshop, I'm able to transport that same feeling back in time. Now the viewer likely gets the feeling they are on a road trip across the American West, only 35 years earlier.
For this I used Pioneer Woman's seventies photoshop action, which I downloaded from her site. Keep in mind that the vintage style photoshop actions may not produce the same sense of time if your photo has a piece of modern technology as its prominent feature. For all I know, the tractor could be brand new, but it's small enough that it doesn't take away from the scene.
Have a look at a few other photos I applied this action to.

Note that all of these photos looked good initially, but by making a few changes it completely transformed the feel of the image. The key is to start off with a good photo - a bad image to start with will still be bad to end with (trust me, I've tried).

There are plenty of other techniques and styles I like to work with in photoshop, but I wanted to highlight the vintage seventies style first. For whatever reason I have a real fascination with the 1950's, 60's and 70's. If I could pick any decade to live in, I'd choose one of those. So using photoshop to transform my photos from 2009 to 1970's is a fun way to let me pretend I'm living back in time, if only for a second.

Also, if you like the vintage seventies style, download Pioneer Woman's photoshop action sets free here. Her actions are my favorites!

[Small plug: All of these images are available for purchase as prints in my Etsy shop.]

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