Make digital photographs
look as if your great-grandfather took them.
By Richard Kadrey
Once upon a time, photographers took pictures on a delicate, wonky medium
called “film,” which was plagued with defects such as dust, scratched negatives,
grain, and colors that faded with time.
USE DIGITAL TO CLICK
BACK THE CLOCK
Digital photography eliminated those defects, yet
somehow the photographs didn’t quite look like
photographs anymore. I found that I missed many
of the dirty, human elements of film, so I ended up
putting them back into my squeaky-clean digital
shots. Here are some tips on how you, too, can ruin,
damage, and age modern pictures that look too
good to be true.
Your primary tool will be a program such as
Photoshop or GIMP, either of which allows you to
use layers. (GIMP is a powerful and free Photoshop
substitute available for download from gimp.org.)
Layers are stacks of images that can be superimposed like old-fashioned transparencies. You
blend them to create something weird and new.
Photography by Richard Kadrey
1. COLLECT TEXTURES
TO ADD TO YOUR PHOTO
I’ve been shooting cracked concrete, stained floors, A
peeling paint, wood, and rusting metal for over 10
years, and have an extensive library I can dip into.
If you don’t have your own textures, you can find
them free at sites such as deviantart.com, or
you can buy high-quality images cheaply from
a stock photo company such as iStockphoto
Fig. A: The final
photo, after all the
tweaks and modifications. Fig. B: The
original photo, as
taken by the author.
2. SELECT A SUITABLE PHOTO
I decided to work with a shot I took of a model at a
San Francisco train station. I wanted an image that
looked something like a photographic version of one
of Paul Delvaux’s surrealist sleepwalker paintings.