Creating a Vintage Portrait – First and Second Attempts

The first birthday party of My Muse (aka, The Moose) provided me with some photo opportunities, of course. But with it being a family/friend affair with a houseful of people, my images were of a photojournalistic, capturing-the-moment nature. There was no time/space for anything formal with lighting and backdrops.

Still, I wanted to take one of those images to create a vintage-style portrait of her via Photoshop.

Here is the original, untouched image right out of the camera (before any basic cropping, light adjustments I did for the “keeper” image):

IMG_9202SmallI loved her happy facial expression in her rocking chair, but there were a couple of things I hated about the shot, and that had mainly to do with lighting. There is a south/southwest facing pair of French doors to her right, so there was plenty of natural light pouring through, which was a benefit, but it was dappled from the wood of the panes. I almost always shoot in manual mode, which I did here, but my hidden flash popped up and that was both a good and bad thing. The lighting created some really harsh shadows and light. So I thought trying for a vintage, old-timey look might help tone down those shadows and bright spots.

First attempt:

IMG_9202DesaturatedSmallI cleaned up the image first, then I desaturated the colors. Not all the way down to black and white, because I was trying to achieve a “colorized” look that was popular in the 1930s. I then added a sepia filter over that. I added a white vignette around the edges to blur them out a little. I used the spot healing brush tool to soften the edges of some of those really harsh shadows on the wall around her head.

Second attempt:

IMG_9202B&W1SmallThis one is a full black and white version. I never create B&W images by just going all the way with desaturation, but normally use channel mixer in Photoshop. Recently I purchased the Nik software package for it’s Silver Efex component (but I’m loving a few other components as well). So I took the image into that and used one of their preexisting filters, but tweaked it some. Then I added a sepia overlay again on this one.

I’d love to know your thoughts, critical and otherwise. I’m going to try a few other ideas to see how they turn out. For my fellow photographers out there, what have you done to create vintage-looking photos?

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