Trying sepia tone for a vintage photo effect

Someone in Palmerston North, New Zealand (a bit north of Wellington) recently ordered two prints of a photograph of Cathedral Square in Christchurch from my photography gallery at Zazzle. So I thought it’d be nice to have a sepia-tone version available as well, for a clean, warmer, classic look. Here’s the result.

I like the effect; it’s rich and warm, which is something I don’t usually achieve when I try to color an image in sepia tone. Usually, I just use the Hue/Saturation tool to colorize the image with a brown/orange hue at a saturation of 20-30. This time, I desaturated the image first, then created a color fill layer (a layer of solid color) set to a shade a bit brighter than true sepia, which Wikipedia tells me is hex code #704214. I set the layer to Soft Light mode at an opacity of 70% or 75%. Having started to play in Photoshop, I thought I’d try another image and see if I could make it look a little more authentically ‘vintage.’ Meet Sharay.

I started editing Sharay’s picture the same way as I did the Cathedral photo, but then I lowered the opacity of the image so that it would look faded. I also used a Gaussian blur to soften the image, because it seemed too sharp; older cameras needed longer exposure times, so you wouldn’t get a perfectly crisp image even if your subject tried to hold still. Finally, I swiped the image a time or two each with the Burn and Dodge tools set to a large size and relatively low opacity; I wanted to make the darkness a little less even without overdoing it.

It probably needs more fading at the edges and some dust & scratches to be really authentic, but I definitely like the effect.


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