Making a New Photo look Old

Planning my recovery story was easy. Implementing that plan has not been as much of a walk in the park. The greatest and worst part of my plan is that a single key represents my family history, not photographs. As you can imagine, this presents quite a few problems in trying to uncover the history behind this key in a photo essay. Luckily, I’ve learned how to make new photographs look old by using Photoshop.


Aged photographs can be characterized by their lack of contrast and contrast and the presence of scratches or damage, as can be seen in the above photograph which is authentically old. Photoshop allows us to take a new picture and remove the contrast and color and also add artificial damage. First, open a new picture with Photoshop. Then, begin the process of aging by adding a layer to protect the original file. With this layer selected, a “hue/saturation…” adjustment layer can be added to create a sepia tone appearance that will help remove the large majority of the color. To do this, check the box that indicates, “colorize.” Then, adjust the hue up from 0 until it the hue level is at a level that looks good, a value around 30 is typically good. The saturation must also be adjusted from 0 to a value around 10.  These actions can be seen in the photo below.


Next the contrast must also be adjusted and “flattened out.” To do this a “levels” adjustment layer can be added. You can then adjust the toggles on both the black and white ends of the “output level” adjustment bar. To remove contrast further, you can adjust the highlight level by decreasing the value of the highlight toggle to about 200. The next thing you’ll want to do is add scratches or damage to your photo. Click on the original picture layer, go to the filter tab on your toolbar, and add a “noise” filter. You’ll want a value of about 3% and you’ll also want to select “Gaussian addition” and “monochromatic.” To add further scratches, add another layer above the original that is all black. Then add a “grain” filter.


Then adjust the intensity and contrast on the filter (above image) and set the “blending mode” under layers on the lower left dialog box to “screen.” Changing the blending mode of the layer will remove the black and allow the photo to be seen under the layer. At this point your new photograph should be looking pretty old.


2 thoughts on “Making a New Photo look Old

  1. I actually began to wonder how to do this after teaching my tutorial on how to make worn, torn edges–this would be a perfect addition to make the whole thing seem authentic!

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