Retro Your Photos {Part 2}


This is the second of a two part blog series that shows the process I took to transform photos from a 2012 anniversary trip to Las Vegas into a retro-inspired album.


In my last post we spent some time figuratively tearing retro photos into tiny, little pieces to see all the quirks and qualities that make them so fabulous.  It’s time to put all that swooning over honesty aside, and cue up those beauty aps, filters, fancy cropping and my personal favorite reality bending tool, Photoshop (yes). In this post, I’ll show you how I reassembled all those little pieces of information to form a process that helped me create my own collection of faux retro photos for my Las Vegas album.

Let’s Break this Process Down


Step 1: Since I wanted the photo to be the entire layout, in Photoshop, I resized & cropped my photo to 12×12 inches.


Step 2:  Searches on Google and Pinterest will turn up many vintage & retro themed Lightroom presets that are huge time savers when altering the colour of your photo.  Using a Lightroom preset was a step I didn’t use for every photo, but for this photo it was a fast way to add a strong blue/green saturation to the entire photo.

I saved a new copy of my 12×12 sized photo with Photoshop and opened this file in Lightroom, selecting the PH Vintage II from a set of presets I found on a fantastic site – Presets Heaven.  I then exported a copy of this enhanced photo and opened it in Photoshop.


Step 3:  At this point I wanted an even stronger green hue to my photo (a colour that I had admired in many retro photos during my “research”).   I clicked Enhance–>Adjust Color–>Adjust Hue/Saturation and set the levels to Hue (-21), Saturation (-21), Lightness (+4).


Step 4:  One of the quirks I admire in retro photos is the light blurring that many of them have.  To create this effect, I duplicated my newly adjusted photo layer and applied a gaussian blur of 3.5 pixels to the top layer.  With a large, soft brush, I erased parts of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign and reduced the opacity of this blurred layer to 78% so that the original non-blurred photo layer below would show through.  Keeping these as separate layers gave me the freedom to adjust how blurry I wanted to photo to appear right up until the final stage of merging all the layers.


Step 5:  In addition to the blurring, this photo needed a little noise and “dust”.  Using an overlay from the Estate Sale Collection: Some Assembly Required 12×12 Overlays pack, I applied the Dust3 overlay as the top layer, keeping the color of the overlay as-is and the opacity at 100%. Changing the colour of the dust overlay to white or off white would also have been a great option for adding natural looking dust & noise to this photo.


Step 6:  I then opened the Glare5 overlay from the same overlays pack, pasted this on top of the Dust3 overlay, rotating the Glare5 overlay until I was happy with the effect.  In the Photoshop layers palate I selected the soft light (blending mode) for this overlay and kept this layer at 100% opacity.


Step 7:  At this stage, it was time to give this photo a realistic washed out appearance, but I didn’t want to lose all of that intense color.  To accomplish this, I opened up the Color1 overlay from the Estate Sale Collection: Some Assembly Required 12×12 Overlays pack and pasted this layer on top of the Glare5 layer.  I then selected the overlay (blending mode) and reduced the opacity of this layer to 50%.


Step 8:  The Color1 overlay created a beautiful effect on my photo, but I was aiming for an even stronger retro vibe.  I then selected the Color6 overlay and pasted this on top of the Color1 overlay.  In the layers palate I selected the blending mode of soft light and kept the opacity of this layer at 100%.


Step 9:  Finished with the overlays, now I wanted to give all the photos in this album a light paper texture.  I opened the BlankPage paper file from the Still Life Collection: White Space 12×12 Album and applied this as the top layer.  I selected the blending mode of multiply and reduced the opacity of this textured layer to 88%.

Final Steps:  At this point, I was thrilled with the results, but decided to make a few additional minor color adjustments in Photoshop. I merged all of the visible layers so that I could work with one flattened file.


Wanting a stronger green hue, in the Color Variations pop up menu I selected Midtones–>Increase Green (having adjusted the color intensity slider to a little less than half).


I then played a little with the Color Curves to get an even brighter effect and, finally, reduced the overall lighting/brightness of the photo by -6.


And with that my layout was finally done!

With each photo I followed a similar process, using trial-and-error to select the crop, overlays and Lighroom presets that worked best with each individual photo.


Some photos required more work than others, though I found the easiest photos to transform were distance photos that allowed flexibility for creative cropping.  Photos with lots of sky were also naturals for achieving that blue-green retro vibe that I adore so much in actual retro photos.


I’m thrilled with how this project is turning out and will be filling up my gallery in the coming weeks with more layouts from this album.  I hope that this mini blog series will inspire some of you to retro your photos too! 🙂

For all of the layouts on this page (and in my album) I used two products:

Grab the Still Life Collection: White Space 12×12 Album here and the Estate Sale Collection: Some Assembly Required 12×12 Overlays (Vol 1) here – both packs are on sale for 30% off right now!

Meet me back here next week for new product announcements, a freebie & a challenge! 🙂


4 thoughts on “Retro Your Photos {Part 2}

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