Instant Classic

Instant ClassicTransforming an old photograph into one that looks as though it was taken with one of today’s top-of-the-line digital SLRs is relatively easy in Adobe Photoshop CS2 and other image-editing programs. You’ll find many retouching and restoration articles on the topic on the web and in photography and Photoshop magazines.

In this column, we’re taking a look at the opposite effect, however: transforming a recent photograph into one that looks as though it was taken yesteryear. The techniques here are fast and easy. Let’s go!

Before1. We’ll begin with a picture of a man I took in Hong Kong, on film in 1976. He’s asking me for a dollar. I had already paid him a dollar to take his picture and was about to take another. His hand went up before I could snap the shutter for a second time. I forked over another dollar bill. The bucks were well worth it.

22. In Photoshop CS2, I wanted to apply the Aged Photo Action. (An Action applies different combinations of effects/enhancements/filters, etc., with one click of the Action button.) The Aged Photo Action isn’t listed in the default Actions palette, however, so it needed to be loaded. To load it, I first clicked on the fly-out arrow (see my red arrow) in the Actions palette and then clicked on Image Effects, the bundle of Actions that includes Aged Photo.

Here’s a look at the Actions palette after all the Image Effects had been loaded (in about a second). I circled Aged Photo to make it easy for you to see it.

44. Hey, remember I said that clicking on an Action button applies several different effects/enhancements/filters with the click of your mouse? Well, this screenshot of the History palette shows the steps involved when the Aged Photo Action is applied. As you’ll see, a new layer was created as well.

Before You can also age a photograph by applying the Sepia Toning Action. Here, I made a picture I took of a cowboy in Texas look as though it was taken way before digital cameras were invented. In taking this picture, as with every picture I take, I try to envision, or visualize, possible end-result —keeping in mind that, for me, photography is a 50-50 deal: 50-percent image capture and 50-percent Photoshop work.


BorderedFor an even older, tattered look, I added the Acid Burn frame, one of countless frames in PhotoFrame (, a Photoshop plug-in. When composing a picture with a digital frame in mind, leave some “dead space” around the subject; otherwise, the frame will cut into the subject.

Before After you apply one Action, you can continue to apply other Actions to your images. To make my Great Wall of China picture look as though it was taken on a rainy day shortly after the completion of this Wonder of the World, I applied both the Aged Photo Action and the Light Rain Action.

Okay, it’s your turn to move into action—or should I say Actions!

Rick Sammon is the author of The Complete Guide to Digital Photography and Digital Imaging Workshops. He also recently produced four interactive DVDs: Adobe Photoshop Elements 3-Minute Makeovers; Photoshop CS 3-Minute Makeovers: Awaken the Artist Within; Close Encounters with Camera Raw; and Rick Sammon’s Travel and Nature Photography Tips, Tricks and Techniques. Visit with Rick, and see clips of some of his television programs, at

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