If you look at old family snapshots from the 60s/70s/80s you’ll notice how colours have shifted and faded. Blacks are rarely jet-black and whites are almost yellow – some have a colour-cast across the whole image, others have one particular colour fading faster than any of the others. I love these photos!
1. 70s Family, 2. Family Photos, 1960s, 3. Late 1960s Early 1970s KUMPF Family Vintage Photos KUMPFS Pennsylvania Americana Christmas (35), 4. scan0034 david, 5. World Trade Center in the Mid-1970s, 6. vintage 1960s christmas dad photo
A simple way to emulate this effect and therefore give your modern-day digital photos a ‘vintage’ feel (sorry for over-using the whole ‘vintage’ thing, but I can’t think of a better word) is by using one simple but often over-looked tool in your Photoshop arsenal – the ‘Selective Color’ adjustment layer.
‘Selective Color’ allows you to alter the properties of the colours in your image one by one; creating subtle or startling effects depending on how far you push it. It was originally developed for people who needed to alter hi-res scans in preparation for CYMK printing – for example, you could adjust the amount of yellow ink in the greens of your image without affecting the yellow inks in the red areas.
Here’s how I use it:
With your layer selected create an adjustement layer – and choose ‘Selective Color’ – depending on your version of Photoshop you should see something like this…
The dropdown will show you all the primary colours as well as whites, neutrals and blacks. For each of these you can adjust the CMYK sliders. That’s all there is to it really – start sliding!
I start with the ‘Neutrals’, then ‘Blacks’ then ‘Whites’ then the all the other colours. When you look at older photos like those above you can see the blacks never look really black and often have a reddish or blueish tinge to them – this is easy to achieve using this tool.
This isn’t something I can really give you definitive settings for as every photo will be very different – it’s one of those tools you need to just use by eye and play around with.
What I would say though is that it’s a good to start with ‘Neutrals’ – there will be more ‘Neutral’ hues than any other (followed by ‘Blacks’, then ‘Whites’). Even if you had a photo of a field af grass, you’ll get a bigger effect changing the ‘neutrals’ as opposed to the ‘Greens’.
You can save your settings if you like, but I tend to treat each photo individually – no two are likely to be entirely the same. And of course this is an adjustment layer so you can go back and fiddle with the settings, turn them off or copy them at any time in the future. Great stuff!
For such a quick and simple to use tool it’s pretty effective, don’t you think? Oh, and it’s also very useful for correcting colour shifts back to how they should be, of course!