With the run of abandoned and ruined houses I’ve shot lately, I’ve wanted to hone in on a specific post-process technique so I can return to the raw files one day and process them in one organic manner. Today I took the plunge into the “fake antique” or rather, an emulation of collodion plate processing in film. Antique late 19th century photos always fascinate me in terms of being perfectly flawed. Little nuances—grain, chroma noise, haze, etc.—make the photos work for me while some circles usually advise to steer clear of these technical imperfections.
A basic run down of the Photoshop process is as follows. First I duplicated the image and manipulated the channels to bring the blue out in the sky. The sky was already a brilliant cornflower blue from the original, so the intense saturation caused some noise in the sky, which was my intent. I then masked the house and foreground out of revved up sky. The next step was to sharpen the foreground. I duplicated the original, sharpened it, and then masked it some using a radial gradient. I then switched the photo to LAB color mode to create the sepia tone. (There are a multitude of ways for sepia or one can use the built in Duotone group for PS. I prefer using LAB mode and manipulating the tone curves because it keeps luminosity on a separate channel.) Once I the toning was where I wanted it, I brought it back to RGB mode. I then used a series of Curve layers to get the contrast of lights & darks. Lastly, I saved the PSD and then opened it back in with Adobe LR, cropped it for composition, added a little extra grain, and then applied a light square vignette.
Nothing beats the real thing of course and I salute those who toil in darkrooms with the array of chemicals and extreme discipline that is needed for such a daunting tasks. Photoshop provides a good fake. It’s not likely the end aesthetic direction I’ll go with the rural ruins, but I love the solemn feel the effect provides.