How to Create Matte Effect

So I was thinking about a tutorial that might actually be useful for these particular projects.  Most of us are doing family and will probably be using old family photos, so I thought it might be kinda cool if we all learned how to create a matte effect on images.  This effect works best on photos that do not have a face in them, but still show people, such as the image below.  I’ve seen this effect added to war photos, wedding shots, and baby portraits.  Hopefully you’ll find this trick helpful!

1) To begin, choose your image that you think will work best for a matte effect and open it into Photoshop.

2) Go to this side bar and click on the middle button on the top row.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.03.44 PM

3) It will look like this, it is called CURVES:

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.06.16 PM

4) This box will pop-up:

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.07.01 PM

5) This is where things start to get tricky.  Your image hasn’t been changed yet,  so the line will be straight going from the bottom left corner to the top right corner in a straight line.  From here, you’ll click into the properties box and drag the small white box from the white line up until you are satisfied with the effect.  (You’ll be able to change it again if you decide later you want it to be more dramatic, etc.).

Original: Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.08.56 PM

As you raise the bottom left corner up, the image will become lighter and more matte:

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.11.03 PM

6) Once you are happy with the level you raised the bottom corner to, next you will go to the middle of the white line and pull downward on it to create a dip.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.13.58 PM

This will add to the effect, and the deeper you pull on the line, the more contrast will appear and dramatize your image. If you choose to leave it more airy, only pull down on the line slightly.

7) If you so wish to, you can also lighten the photo to a bright matte by pullin up on the line to create a whitening effect that still appears matte:

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.15.48 PM

8) Once you are happy with the level you’ve created so far, the next step is to create an additional layer by clicking on the Levels button which looks like this: Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.18.16 PM

And this box will pop-up:

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.18.53 PM

9) Now you will go to the little white glob/knob (on the right) underneath the weird bar graph looking thing (sorry I don’t know the correct language!) and slowly drag the knob towards the center until you are happy. Do this on the black knob as well (left side).

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.20.16 PM

10) if the contrast becomes too intense or too weak,  (this sometimes happens when you do the above step) move the knob on the bar underneath that to adjust the levels of contrast:

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.23.26 PM

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.23.44 PM

And then you are done! Yay!

Here’s a look at the original versus the new matte finish:

pink_wedding_shoesScreen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.25.20 PM

Good luck,



Aging an Image

This is how you make an image look older by creating your own sepia tone and adding some graininess.

  1. First, adjust the contrast of your image and the levels to your liking.
  2. Next, add a black and white adjustment and change it from default to something more interesting.  I added a high contrast red filter.

1 step

3.  Now, you’re going to add a  color to make it like a sepia/brown tone. To do this, you go down to the adjustment layer menu, and click gradient map.

4. The standard box you get is a fade from black to white.  Instead of this, click the drop down  menu and choose the brown option. You have to adjust the sliders so the darkest brown is on the left and the lightest is on the right

step 25.  After you have it the color you want, select the gradient layer and multiply it, or overlay it as I did.

6. Next, you’re going to do the same thing and add another gradient, but this time make it a solid gradient. So choose “gradient” and select the black and white option. step 4

7. Change the shape to radial from linear, and reverse it so you have a white circle in the middle that fades out to black.

8. Change that to multiply mode to get a vignette effect. Change the opacity so it’s not too dark.  If you want to move the center of the vignette, you reopen the gradient menu and move it accordingly and press “ok”. I ended up with this:

step 5

9.  Now , we’re going to make it grainy.  To do this, add a new “fill layer” and make it a solid grey. You will add the texture to this.

10.  Go up to filter, noise, and add noise.  Change the amount of noise to your liking, make it Gaussian, and hit monochromatic.  You end up with this: step 6

11. Now you have to soften it by going up to Filter, Blur, Gaussian blur, and adjusting it accordingly.

12. Free transform that layer and scale it up to  make it even blurrier.

13. Now, change it to overlay and lessen the opacity, so you have a nice texture showing through.  And that’s it. Now you have an old grainy photo.

step 7

Hope this helps!


What hurts more: bad going worse or good going bad?


What hurts more:  bad going badder or good going bad?

The very first contextual element I noticed about this photo was the viewpoint. Personally, going the dentist is something I dread more than anything else and seeing this photo reminded me of when I stand at the threshold between the hall and that damned room and feel chills crawling up my spine. I also noticed the various depths and layers in the photo. First you take in the machinery jutting out from the walls, the chair, sink, and prep table. Then you see the window, air unit and heater peaking through from behind. Amidst these layers are the decaying textures of the moldy yellow walls and equipment. The lighting seems dreary to me because the window is opaque, giving the room a suffocating sort of feel. The walls act as a framing tool for the photo and give the viewer an idea of the small size of the room (get me out!). Since part of the machinery is jutting out from the left wall our eyes follow the picture in a way that mimics the western-culture manner of reading left to right.

This dentist’s cabinet looks like it has been decaying for quite some time. The floor is covered with debris and the walls are peeling away like someone’s skin who has had a few doses too much of sun. While taking in each photo of “The Ruins of Detroit” I found that this one fit in especially well with portraying that eerie feeling that came with each click. The dentist usually isn’t a happy and cheery place to begin with, even if it’s fully intact with a friendly hygienist waiting to scrape away at your sensitive and frightened gums. This photo takes the feeling of going to the dentist to a whole new level of horror. It adds another element of creepiness to “The Ruins of Detroit” and works rather well with conveying the state that Detroit has been left in.

The photo succeeds in evoking strong emotion from the viewer regarding the abandonment of Detroit by showing a setting many of us are so familiar with in a state that we have not seen before. What would be more emotionally provoking and disturbing to the viewer? Seeing a setting that we typically think negatively of become even worse or seeing a setting that usually brings us feelings of joy and happiness become abandoned and essentially destroyed?


Where Risa Sleeps

Something drew me to this photo from the moment that I saw it. Something about Risa, 15, from Kyoto, Japan peaked my interest.

The compositional elements of this photo are interesting. The room seems to work as an establishing shot.The rule of thirds stands out because there seem to be three main objects sitting next to each other on the floor: the flowers, the pillow, and the fan. There seems to be balance with the objects as well. The angle that this picture was taken is also very interesting because we are able to see the simple intricacies of the room. I know that “simple intricacies” might seem like an oxy moron, but I can’t think of a better way to describe what I am seeing. The architecture of the room is so simple, but the little intricacies, like the lines on the floor, the panels on the door, and the board going across the ceiling make you appreciate the work that went into creating the space.

I love how it is paired with the intricacy of Risa’s simple makeup, clothes, and headband. These details seem so small, but they make sure a difference in her face. When I look at her face, I can’t help but wonder what is underneath the makeup – and when I look at her room, I can’t help but wonder what kind of person Risa is. In both cases, I am left feeling like I want to know more. And that has to do with the composition of the photographs.

I feel like the photographer only captured a certain side of Risa, who, in the photo, looks like a well-behaved, cultured, Japanese citizen. I am wondering whether or not the photographer wanted to capture Risa in that light, or if Risa’s family chose to dress her in that way. Who wanted Risa to be portrayed in such a formal light? Well, if the family thought that the audience of the photographs was going to be filled with important people, then they might want to make sure that Risa looks her best. I know that a part of Japanese culture involves “face” and “saving face” so maybe that cultural element plays a role in Risa’s dress and makeup.

I feel happy and sad when I look at these pictures. I am happy that Risa looks like a beautiful, well-off girl, but I feel sad that her room is so simple. We are groomed to think that the more “things” a person has, the better life that they have – so my first thought is that I wish that Risa had more. I wonder if she wants more. Then I have to stop and realize that Japanese culture values simplicity over materialistic decadence. Maybe that is another point of the photograph and how it fits into the rest of the collection. Maybe the photographer wanted to force us to put everything in context before we push our own values on these children. Before we judge their lives as “good” or “bad” we have to think about what isn’t being photographed. Who their family is. What the child’s parents do, if the child has living parents at all, etc.

After all, a child is more then where they sleep. Right?