iPhone Photography Ttutorials #2 – Painterly Aged Photo Effect

by Pu on April 22, 2011

Antique monochrome photos have an incredible charm. Most of them not only have a strangely surreal and almost ghostly feel, but also a beautiful painterly quality: for a long time, the influence of painting over photography was very strong and photographers often tried to imitate stylistic principles followed by painters.

With just a few easy steps, I intend on demonstrating how to achieve the evocative feel of aged photos on your iPhone. This is just one of the many processes you can follow.

Apps needed: iCamera HDR, Iris Photo Suite, Plastic Bullet. Optional: Bracket Mode.

1. Take two bracketed exposures of a landscape of your choice. Daylight photos featuring skies with significant detail (huge, fluffy clouds, etc.) will work better. You can either take your exposures directly within iCamera HDR or use Bracket Mode, whatever makes you feel more comfortable. If you already have photos you want to use, jump to step 2. If you have the HDR composite, go to step 3;

2. Merge the exposures in iCamera HDR, choosing Tone Balancer. Adjust the parameters to obtain rich, neatly contrasted details, without exaggerating with overblown brightness, and then save;

3. Open your saved HDR picture in Iris Photo Suite. Tap on the layers icon  -> One Touch -> Grunge. For this example, I picked Noise, but you can go for one of the other effects, if it suits your photo better. Leave the value to around 100 or little less, so the effect enhances the contrast of your image. Apply and save;

4. Load the image you just saved on Plastic Bullet. Our aim is to have our final image look like an old, aged picture; Plastic Bullet’s monochromes are particularly convincing for our purpose. Generate random styles by pressing on the refresh button until you obtain something that has the right balance of blur and brightness: we want the picture to look old and deteriorated but we want at the same time to preserve as much detail as it is possible. I decided to go for a dark silver tone with a thick border. When you find a style you like, save to your camera roll and you’re done!

And here is our final result:

HH April 23, 2011 at 5:32 am

Gonna try this, thx.

Mar April 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I believe that iCamera HDR is the closest equivalent to desktop over-the-top HDR (which I love, a shot is never too over-HDR’ed in my opinion). iPhone shots depict details poorly, as shadows are dark and highlights overblown when shooting outside, so bringing out the shadows is kind of vital.
I wish there was an app that would recover information from the lost highlights.

Maybe you would be interested in doing a tutorial on tone balancing, tone enhancing, and tone compressing (for example I don’t understand what the last one does).

Pu April 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Thanks for reading and for the feedback, Mar! Actually, the possibility to have an entry to explain the differences among the three crossed my mind when I was reviewing the app some time ago. I shall seriously think about it.

Pawel July 9, 2011 at 9:29 am

It’s the same effect with Photoforge2

Pu July 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm
  1. This was posted long before the release of PhotoForge2.
  2. There are many ways to achieve the same effects in photography.

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