I love vintage photography, and there are a lot of filters out there that help you emulate these styles and techniques, but I strongly believe that the processing you choose has to fit the image, in other words, you can always use filters to polish something and make it more interesting, but I somehow always feel a bit like cheating when I do it to “save” an image, and to be honest I only use heavy processing like this sometimes to “save” an image that actually is very nice but misses focus, is blurred etc, the heave retouching actually masks the technical part (well at least I make myself believe that). This shot was pinsharp still I used the new AEP2 from NIK/Google for the effect because when I shot it I already had this retouch in mind and in that case I think it’s fair to use it 😀
The fun thing is that now a days people are so used to seeing these kind of retouches that you sometimes get the weirdest questions. Recently I submitted a head shot for a magazine publication which was shot on a large format polaroid, within a few hours I got an email from the magazine and this about how it went (no kidding):
Magazine : “He Frank, love your shot, but…. do you also have a original version”
Me : “Well this is the original version”
Magazine : “No, I mean the version like it was shot”
I now already had the idea what they wanted, but I thought, let’s play…
Me : “Yeah, this is it…. we used polaroid”
Magazine : “Oh the filter is very good, where I can download it, but we still prefer the original version, is that possible?”
Me : “Ok, I was kidding, this really is the original, it’s a scan from a polaroid that a friend of mine shot, I will send a new headshot”
Magazine : “LOL, ok you got me……. but man I love that filter”
Anyway, the moral of the story.
In the old days we had the darkroom to create looks, we choose filmtype depending on the look you wanted, in the darkroom we used techniques like cross processing, dodge and burn etc. etc. all to give the images something unique. In todays market there is a huge group of photographers going back to film (I love film) and other techniques, I still would love to work with a wet plate for example, the truth however is that with Photoshop and the filters from today we come incredibly close (when looking on the net) to some looks that in the past were only possible with certain techniques, however….. always keep in mind that it might be real.
If you see something you can’t create, don’t always think it must be Photoshop. (although often it will be with things like this).