Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making old photos look good, how to do the Orton effect

This image was processed after the film sat in the fridge for 15 years
Many of us have old pictures that bring back nice memories but the end result was not that great. It could be that the original equipment was not to par or that age has taken its toll on the image.

One cool way to bring back some zest to old photos and making them look good is the Orton effect. This is a technique that involved mixing a very sharp and bright copy with another one that is very blurry and dark of the same image. It was done in the dark room but now reproducing the effect with image editing software is a breeze.

This works with both Photoshop and GIMP.

Step one: Open the image, sharpen it a bit and then go to layers and duplicate the background layer.

Step two: Change the top layer's mode from "normal" to "screen".

Step three: Merge down both layers.

Step four: Go to layers and duplicate the background layer again.

Step five: Go to filters and open the Gaussian Blur tool. This is the tricky part. You need to blur the layer so you can barely see the details in the image. You might want to experiment with that step a few times to get the end result to your taste.

Step six: Change the top layer's mode to "multiply". You can also adjust the intensity of the effect by reducing the opacity of this layer.

Step seven: Flatten Image and you are done.

You can also play with the saturation and sharpen the original image before you start. Save your work as a separate file and compare with the original, you'll be amazed. There are other ways to make old pictures look good, this is a very simple one. The Orton Effect technique can also be used with good pictures, bland ones and even black and white images.

For more examples of what can be done you can check my photoblog here (The last 2 got that treatment) and here.

Thanks for watching.

Gerry :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cropping your TTV or Through The Viewfinder pictures

One of the interesting style of photography is to take pictures through the viewfinder of older cameras or TTV. Once you have taken your picture you will have to crop it in order to get that 6X6 look. Here's how to do it.

First open your image in your graphic edit program like Gimp or Photoshop.If you picture is not level, simply do select/all, use the select tool in Photoshop to rotate the image until it is level. In Gimp you will select all as well, click on the rotation tool, click on the image and rotate it with the cursor until you are satisfied. You'll then have to click on "rotate" in the dialog box in order for the changes to be set.

Second, use the square select tool and make a square box around the actual image.

Third, crop. In Photoshop go to: image/crop. In Gimp go to: image/crop to selection.

Lastly you might want to flip the image since most viewfinders show a reverse image of the original. You don't have to but if you want here's how to do it. In Photoshop go to: Image/rotate/flip horizontally. In Gimp go to: image/transform/flip horizontally.

That's it you're done.

Have fun.

Gerry :)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Converting from Photoshop to GIMP

A few months ago Windows fried on me and I couldn't find my Windows XP CD. I happened to have a Ubuntu 10.04 CD lying around and since I had back ups of all my files, I think, I formatted and started a new software adventure.

Now I have my Photoshop Elements CD and I could run it with a special plug in inside this Linux software but I had to give GIMP a shot.

The great thing about GIMP, and Ubuntu for that matter, is that it's free. Not only that, but the software is completely vector graphics capable compared to the affordable Elements version of Photoshop and I'll say it again, it's free!

I've been through this process before 15 years ago when I switched from my first photo retouch program (Corel Draw) to Photoshop. I have found that the greatest challenge is to find what is what from the new software compared to the old. This is the exact same experience but it is a lot less painful. There are a lot of similarities between both of them.

I am no software expert but I will share with you what I found out through trial and error and hopefully avoid you the trouble of some frustrating moments as we navigate the waves of change.

The Basics

The first thing you notice is that the toolboxes and the image window are all separate. Where Photoshop is one window with opened image files in them, Gimp opens each image as a Gimp window itself. This means that each image can be used with the file, edit, etc... features within it. The toolbox will be effective to the image sitting on top.

Some of the immediate things you'll need to know in order to survive the transition quickly are as follows:

- Where most controls in PS use ALT to reverse or select like the clone tool, Gimp uses CRTL
- Pasted selections do not become layers automatically, you have to right click in the layer tool box and click on "new layer" before you edit it. Until then it is a "floating selection".
- The font selection sucks big time. You'll have to download a more complete font folder and a font viewer because Gimp as no preview features for fonts. Thankfully there's a lot out there and it's free. Just Google it.
- Putting text into an image will happen in a text box separately. The font size is always small so you probably won't see it. The font size is controlled in the toolbox. Just make it bigger to see it appear.
- There is no "deselect", instead it is called "none" in the select menu.
- When an object or layer is selected with the pointer tool, you can't just resize it, move it or rotate it. There is a separate tool for each of these operations in the toolbox. (Scale, Distort, rotate, etc...)
- Making lines is stupid simple. With any brush, click once at your starting point, hold the SHIFT key, drag the cursor to where you want it and click. Straight line every time. From that point on, every time you hit the SHIFT key it will be in line mode until you go to another tool.
- All the image adjustment features are under "Colours". There's a great white balance correction auto mode in there.
- Adjusting brush size is done in the bottom half of the toolbox under "Scale". The default setting is 1.
- To flatten layers you'll have to go to "Image" where you will find the "flatten image" feature.
- If the layer toolbox vanishes on you, just use CTRL+L and it will re-appear.

That's it for now. I'll have more as I work with it. Until then if you have any special request for me to look into Gimp, just leave me a comment.

Take care

Gerry :)