Forgotten in its old age

by Aditya

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I have been photographing for a few years now, mostly urban landscapes, among others - abandoned sites. I am not an artistic kind of guy, more of a perfectionist, so my photos are usually as realistic as possible, sometimes with a bit of glossiness on top to make them look what the majority would call "pretty".

Now, I want to develop myself in a more artistic way, perhaps, by using some post-processing filters, which would make my photos look rather moody than artificial. I am wondering how to capture the mood like in photographs by Colin Delfosse (from outoffocus.be: this & this)? I tried playing in Photoshop with different settings - saturation, contrast, photo filters, hue - but did not achieve the effect these photos have on me. Where would you start?

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the works of the two photographers you mentioned seem rather different to me. Perhaps if you could express better what kind of mood you are seeing in them it would be helpful for answering (and maybe it could be helpful for you, too, since explaining is the best way to understand something) –  Francesco Jan 29 '13 at 9:25
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@Francesco I left only the first photographer in question. I am really wondered how to achieve this somewhat aged, melancholic, abandoned effect. –  Pavlo Dyban Jan 29 '13 at 9:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would start by posting one of the images where you've tried to get the same effect.

All I can see in the examples is that the images are fairly contrasty, with low colour saturation and a cool colour tone.

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Hey! Thanks for your reply. I applied your advice for a series of photographs from an abandoned site and obtained the expected result. The secret lay in low saturation, which I have not detected, because I almost always automatically increase saturation. An example of what I did you can find here: static.panoramio.com/photos/original/85514331.jpg and static.panoramio.com/photos/original/85514333.jpg –  Pavlo Dyban Feb 1 '13 at 23:35

Nothing very special going on here. As Matt Grum says, a contrast boost and low saturation. Try this:

  • Duplicate the photo layer and set the Blend Mode of the new layer to Soft Light.
  • Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and lower the saturation to get the effect you want.

Vary the opacity of the Soft Light layer to alter contrast. You might also want to look at adding some grain or grungy texture effects to give it that distressed look. Lots of tutorials for the latter. Just download a good grungy texture and overlay it as another layer.

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Hey! Thanks for your reply. Soft Light is a bit too harsh for this kind of melancholic effect I was trying to achieve. Simply a bit more contrast has already worked out for me: static.panoramio.com/photos/original/85514331.jpg and static.panoramio.com/photos/original/85514333.jpg –  Pavlo Dyban Feb 1 '13 at 23:36

It's mostly reduced saturation and extremely high contrast. Adding some saturation and reducing the contrast a great deal, you get back a more natural looking image:

enter image description here

Here is an attempt with added contrast and reduced saturation:

enter image description here

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Hey! Thanks for the visual examples! I repeated what you had suggested, and the result was satisfactory: static.panoramio.com/photos/original/85514331.jpg and static.panoramio.com/photos/original/85514333.jpg. I will test this approach on some other photographic series, but for the time being I am happy with what I learnt. –  Pavlo Dyban Feb 1 '13 at 23:38

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