Home How-To Shooting Once Upon A Time In The West
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Once Upon A Time In The West

Re-create the look of early photo printing techniques

This Article Features Photo Zoom

old west
Here’s a photograph of my friend Dallas, which I took during the filming of one of my web television programs in Marrow Bone Springs, Texas. Dallas sure does look like a real cowpoke.
Howdy, pardner! I’m glad you could join the posse in the search to rustle up new creative imaging ideas. You’re riding with some talented folks. By now you may have guessed that, like many kids who grew up in the 1950s, I have the soul of a cowboy rustling around inside me. That feeling started as a child, when I enjoyed watching black-and-white television programs about the Old West, including early episodes of The Lone Ranger and Tales of the Texas Rangers.

Those black-and-white programs, for me, have a certain artistic look and feel. One reason is because they lack full color. When color is removed from a movie or a photograph, some of the reality is removed. When some of the reality is removed, the movie or photograph looks more artistic and more creative. The same goes for sharpness. Removing sharpness and detail can result in a more creative image.

So if ya got a hankerin’ for havin’ some good ol’ fun in your digital darkroom, you came to the right place. On the next few pages, we’ll take a look at how to re-create the look and feel of photographs that could have been taken yesteryear by removing some of the “reality” from the image. For these effects, I used Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Apple Aperture—some within the applications themselves and some with plug-ins that work in the aforementioned applications.

old west

To create the look of an aged photo, I used the Aged Photo Action in Photoshop (Actions > Aged Photo.) Aged Photo isn’t a pre-loaded Action. To load it, click on the tiny fly-out arrow in the Actions panel and then click on Image Effects. That maneuver loads the Aged Photo and other Actions. The frame that looks like an acid burn was created with one of the Acid Burn filters in onOne Software’s PhotoFrame plug-in frame set.

old west
In this example, I used the Old Photo filter in Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro Complete to create another yesteryear-type photo. Here, too, I added an Acid Burn filter from onOne (there are several from which to choose).

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