I’m in love with analog – the soft highlights in film photography, the warmness of a tube amp, the subtle scratching of a record playing. The “mistakes” of analog are what make it so authentic.
I know it’s cheaper and easier to go digital. I know it’s quicker to record your song using DIs. I know photographers shoot digitally because it’s dependable and convenient and I don’t blame them. As much as I love listening to my music on vinyl, I still listen to music via iTunes most of the time since sometimes I get tired of needing to flip the record over every five songs.
But there’s still something I love about analog. Call me a romantic.
For the past ten years I’ve been editing photos for bands, and I’ve picked up some tricks for giving digital photos some analog authenticity – making them look well-loved, high-end and authentic.
These are the same techniques we use for preparing images in our WordPress theme demos to look more interesting and higher budget.
I’m sharing my very best tricks condensed into PS actions for transforming ordinary photos into something that is a lot more reminiscent of film photography. They’ll let you add grit, noise, textures, light leaks and high-contrast that we’ve come to love about film. They’re fully automated, so just hit ‘play’ and watch the magic happen.
Even the most desperate photos will do, but even if you have engaging photos to start with, these actions can be that final spit-shine to really bring them to the next level.
I’ve seen action and texture packs like this cost anywhere from $5-$75 but we’re giving them to you for free as a welcoming gift when you join our newsletter for independent musicians.
We’ll send you a welcome email right away with a download link the moment you sign-up. You’ll get a .zip file with the PhotoShop action file, 6 super high-resolution textures and a PDF overview with instructions.
We couldn’t be happier to share this with you.
Click ‘read more’ to see the samples of the actions in…er, action, an overview of the included textures, and a few editing tips.
PhotoShop Action #1: UNLOVABLE
This is my go-to style when editing photos. It increases the contrast of the photo while simultaneously muting the whites and blacks, making the photo more washed out. This makes it look more real, since nothing in life has pure whites or blacks – it’s a fictional creation of the digital world. We use this same principle in our themes. The colours also get bleached a bit – the blacks become dark navy, the whites become yellowed, etc.
PhotoShop Action #2: NOIR
This action will turn any photo into a dramatic black and white photograph. First, it automatically corrects the contrast, then it’s processed to black and white, and then it’s finished with a tiny bit of noise to emulate film grain.
Pair it with the FHBT-SCRATCHED texture and/or the FHBT-NOISE texture included in the pack for a beautiful looking photo reminiscent of something that came straight out of the darkroom.
PhotoShop Action #3: CROSSED
Cross processing is a technique where you process film in an atypical way such as taking a slide film which is a positive and then running it through normal film development meant for negatives. It makes the contrast in the shots super high and the colours unpredictable.
You may have seen a movie called Domino, which became famous because of its iconic look they achieved through cross-processing their film.
Since we’re cross-processing digitally, it gives us a bit more control. Our action is a little lighter on the deep black contrast normally seen in cross-processed photos to keep the aesthetic a bit more modern.
Oh – keep this effect for your more action-packed shots. If you use this action on photos that are mainly made up of faces as it it will more than likely make them look sick…
PhotoShop Action #4: TELEVISED
I always found it interesting how the colours of the original CSI TV show were processed. The whole frame got a cold blue tinge while the faces were still a normal skin tone. It made everything in the frame feel sterile, futuristic and cold while still looking real because of the skin tones.
This action makes everything a little colder and darker while keeping the reds in the photo untouched so most skin tones will look the same. This is a classic trick to make someone look healthy because they will have a healthy looking skin tone especially when contrasted against cooler tones.
PhotoShop Action #5: 1972
This action will make your photos redder and yellower, like how old photos get bleached over time from being slowly exposed to light over many years.
At it’s full opacity, it sort of looks like a redder version of the Mexico scenes from Breaking Bad. There’s a bit of colour bleeding on the corners, a soft vignette and subtle noise. Add the included texture ‘FHBT-LEAKED’ to bring in even more old photo nostalgia.
Use The Textures for more variety
Over the years we’ve often combined textures we’ve photographed with our photos. Concrete, dark concrete, film light leak, noise, rough concrete & film negative scratches. Some of the textures will look better when set to the blending mode “Screen” while others will look best as “Soft Light” depending on your photo you’re starting with. Use ’em however you want. All of the demo photos above have at least one texture on them. Here’s a sneak peak at them.
Editing Tip: Halve/Double/Combine The Effect
After you run an action, you can take the top layer and lower the opacity if the effect is too strong. If the effect isn’t strong enough, you can play the action again to get even more contrast by doubling it. You can also combine a couple different actions by playing them one after another and see how the effect stack up. You can add in multiple textures and set them to different blending modes too. There’s no right way to use the actions or the textures – whatever looks and fits you best.
Sound good? Sign up now and you’ll instantly get an emailed download link for the whole pack.
If you like the pack or want to see more packs or other downloadables, let us know in the comments 🙂