The Worn Out Effect

By: Maricon Williams

A lot of people are fascinated just by looking at a photograph with a distressed effect. Perhaps they feel the melancholy that it wants to convey. Perhaps they are amazed on how it is done. Perhaps they wonder what makes it special….

I once visited an article by David Nagel entitled Photoshop Compositing, I can say that it was awesome. The transformation of the photograph of a girl is striking - it was as if the girl was struck by a subtle light on the face. The transformation of an ordinary photo to a glazing one is truly worth knowing.

Nagel simulated two photolab processes which are pushing film and bypassing the bleach stage. A bleach bypass, according to him, is the bypassing the bleach stage in the development process, leaving silver on the negative. The result is akin to overlaying a black and white image on a color image. "Pushing" is when you set the ISO on your camera to a higher speed than the film is rated at, resulting in an underexposed image.

In the development stage, the pushed film is processed to correct the exposure, resulting generally in an image with more grain and a higher contrast. When we simulate these two processes together digitally, we can create that oft-sought nostalgic feel and turn a mediocre photo into something worth looking at.

If you are eager to know what’s behind the transformation here is how it is done courtesy of Nagel. After you have selected a photo, deal on this:
1. Color mode. To begin, make sure you're in RGB color mode rather than Lab.

2. Duplicate the background. Duplicate your background layer by dragging it over the "New Layer" icon in the Layers palette.

3. Hue/Saturation. Then apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the duplicate (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation). Make sure you check the option labeled "Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask." This will ensure that only the duplicate layer is affected by the adjustment layer.

4. Lighting Effects. One of the problems with this technique is that it tends to fade out the edges of the image. If your edges are light, you might want to apply Filter > Render > Lighting Effects to your duplicate layer to darken up the areas around the subject.

5. High Pass. Now on the same layer we're going to apply the High Pass filter (Filter > Other High Pass) with a Radius of 1.2 pixels.

6. Fade. We're going to fade that High Pass filter. Right after you apply an operation in Photoshop, an option under the Edit menu appears, labeled "Fade".

7. Luminosity. Finally, in the Layers paletteFree Web Content, you're going to make this all come together by switching the blending mode of your duplicate layer from "Normal" to "Luminosity."

Your masterpiece is terrific! Isn’t it?

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