While perusing the rack of photo magazines at a local bookshop I came across a (new to me) publication called PhotoPlus, described as follows: “PhotoPlus is dedicated to helping Canon EOS users to get the most from their digital SLRs. It's full of tips and inspirational pictures – as well as tutorials on how to get your best from your pictures using Photoshop and other software.”
A quick glance revealed it appears to be aimed squarely at a weekend photographer rather than professionals. I purchased (stiff price: $13 at the bookstore for a single copy) to go deeper at home. After reading the May 2009 issue cover-to-cover I found it to be filled with people that look like me and take pictures like me! The magazine really appears to go out of the way to involve their subscribers / readers – including cover stories. I’ve become hooked on a single issue and subscribed (although it wasn’t cheap due to airmail costs since it’s a UK publication – about $115 per year).
Chris George is the associate editor of the magazine and has an article (pages 52-53) titled “Recreate Moody Lith Film Effects” using Photoshop Elements (MSRP = $139.99 US). I would link directly to the article but I cannot find it online – the resource appears to be print only. I wasn’t able to find a better explanation than his so I’m going to excerpt the first two sentences from the article itself:
“Lith film was the secret ingredient in many of the most spectacular darkroom effects. This super-high-contrast film was originally designed for the printing industry, getting its name from the lithographic process that was used to print magazines and books.”
I love the result of lith effect – the high contrast monochromatic look can give photographs (especially portraits) a very powerful, gritty, emotional tone. Here is an example…
Here are the detailed instructions to get a lith film look and feel with your photographs using Windows Live Photo Gallery (MSRP= Free!). The entire process described below will take you about 5 minutes the first time. Once you get the hang of it the time investment really goes down: it now takes me about 60 seconds (or less) to get the desired output – very, very fast! Click on the screenshots to view full size in a separate window.
1) Launch Windows Live Photo Gallery
2) Select the picture you wish to edit and click the Fix button in the ribbon. (Shortcut: Double-click the picture with the left mouse button).
2) Select Black and white effects in the task pane. The task will expand.
3) Select the effect you find the most pleasing. In this example I used the Red filter to dial back the rust color, primarily for the front of the mail box.
4) Select Adjust exposure in the task pane.
5) Note the Histogram which provides information about the overall levels of brightness in the photograph.
6) Adjust the sliders on either end of the Histogram to your liking. I typically bring them just inside either end of the curve. Moving them closer will generally drive contrast up and remove levels of gray within the photograph.
7) Select Adjust detail in the task pane.
8) Windows Live Photo Gallery will automatically zoom in to 100% so you can more accurately preview the results of this particular task.
9) Adjust the Sharpen slider until you are happy with the results.
10) Click the Back to gallery button in the ribbon. Windows Live Photo Gallery will automatically save your edits. Note: It does so in a non-destructive manner – more on that in a later post.
And you are done with the updated image now in your gallery.
This post is actually the first of three – in the second I’ll outline how to use layers in Paint.NET (also MSRP = Free!) to get a hand tinted look, and in the third I’ll demonstrate how to use the Revert feature in Windows Live Photo Gallery to restore your original photograph.