Re-enactment Photography: how to make historical pictures in the present day

Re-enactment Photography: how to make historical pictures in the present day

How to age your re-enactment photography

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 1

01 Open in raw and check exposure
Open your start image in the Adobe Camera Raw converter. The image was shot on a sunny day, so you could set White Balance to Daylight. But that’s a little too warm, so use the Flash setting. Right-click on the Exposure slider and press the Alt key. Usually we’d wind it up and back it off until the screen is black, but at zero we have just a couple of small specular highlights, so that’s fine.

 

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 2

02 Perfect processing
Set Recovery to 0. To fix the blocked-up shadows from the bright sunny day, adjust Fill Light to 45. This has really helped to open up the shadow areas. Set Blacks to 0, Brightness to +55 and Contrast to +25. We could really do with a lot of texture for our monochrome conversion, so set Clarity to +50.

 

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 3

03 Move into Photoshop
Make sure the drop-down Depth menu is set to 8 Bits/Channel, then click Open Image. Let’s get it down to a workable size: go to Image>Resize>ImageSize. Make sure all the following boxes are ticked: Resample Image, Constrain Proportions and Scale Styles. Select Bicubic Sharper in the drop-down menu and, under Pixel Dimensions, set Width to 2500 pixels. Click OK. Double-click the Hand tool to fill the screen.

 

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 4

04 Make it monochrome
Go to Enhance>AdjustLighting>Shadows/Highlights and set Lighten Shadows to 5%, Darken Highlights to 5% and Midtone Contrast to 0%. Click OK. Now go to Enhance>ConvertToBlackAndWhite. Try a few of the presets from the style options, watching to see if the shadows and faces stand out. Select Scenic Landscape, then click OK. Select the Zoom tool, hold down Alt, and give one or two clicks in the image to zoom out to make room for the next step.

 

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 5

05 Burn it down
Select the Burn tool, choose a soft brush (about 500 pixels) and set Range to Shadows and Exposure to 6%. We’re going to burn the brighter sky at the top left to darken it, so brush from the grey border area on the left into the image about six times, slightly reducing the length of the stroke each time. Finally, do a complete stroke across the top and bottom.

 

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 6

06 Make it old
Go to File>Open and select 1940p_start.jpg – this is the old paper texture we are going to use. Choose the Move tool, click on the paper texture and drag it up onto the tab for the first image. Don’t let go of the mouse button yet.

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 6

When the onscreen image changes back to the army guys, drag down into the image area and press the Shift key before releasing the mouse button to centre the new image.

 

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 7

07 Merge the layers
Close the paper texture image to save memory. In the Layers palette (select Windows>Layers if it’s not displayed), ensure ‘Layer 1’ is selected and, in the drop-down Blending Mode menu, choose Multiply; you should see the paper texture come through. Turn off the Eyeball for the ‘Background’ in the Layers palette and make sure ‘Layer 1’ is selected. Choose the Magic Wand tool, with a Tolerance of 10, and tick Contiguous. Click on the white border to select it.

 

How to age your re-enactment photography: step 8

08 Finish it off
Click on the Create New Layer icon in the Layers palette, then the Add Layer Mask icon. Click the ‘Layer 2’ image icon (as its mask was selected). Choose Paint Bucket, ensure the foreground colour is black and click on the paper. The border should go black. In the Layers palette, click on the ‘Background’ layer and also click on its Eyeball. Go to Enhance>AdjustColour> Adjust Hue/Saturation, tick Colorize, and set Hue to 44 and Saturation to 15. Click OK. Done!

PAGE 1: Why re-enactment photography is worth it
PAGE 2: How to shoot re-enactment photography
PAGE 3: How to age your re-enactment photography

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