I admit I’m a fan of the classic portrait. What that exactly means frankly depends on the shot.
I’ll unabashedly admit I’m a fan of the classic portrait. What that exactly means frankly depends on the shot—it’s one of those photos you either instantly know is a classic, or it grows on you. For example, this shot from my friend and RIT professor Dan Hughes looks like a classic: Great pose, good-looking model, clean post-processing, confident.© Dan Hughes
Here’s a shot of a Hollywood actress that also evokes a classic look emblematic of a nostalgic era. There’s something that draws me to these photos - whether it feels like more of a candid “snapshot in time” preserved for the ages, or simply a great encounter with celebrity far beyond my station in life.
But.. can post-processing software help modern-age photos achieve that timelessness? Absolutely. I’ve found the one-click presets in Skylum’s Tonality to be perfect for exploring classic looks, with the powerful controls found in the Adjust panel idea for achieving a final look. In this post, we’ll look at creating a classic Sepia photo, a Film Noir image, and one that I think is the penultimate celebrity classic look.
A couple of years ago I was cast in a a film school movie as a western “bad guy” - while I died horribly in the final production, strapping a real six-shooter on my hip and firing it was super-cool. I thought it would make a great sepia photo. To create the final shot, I launched Tonality and did the following:
- Chose Presets > Toning > Sepia
- Moved to the Adjust panel and sharpened some features with Clarity
- Split Toning: Dialed down the strength of the Sepia tone
- Finish: Added a slight vignette to accentuate the gun
I think the trick here is picking a great image that will work to capture the vibe and energy of the event. In this photo, I chose an image of my friend Spike and I discussing the events of the day. I achieved this look using the Presets > Basic > Bright & Airy preset, and then moving to the Adjust panel to deepen the Vignette and add Lens Blur. Generally I’m happy w/ the shot, though it's pretty I have a “face for radio”! ;-)
To my creative eye, the image of the Hollywood starlet is softened by a glow and often has some film grain that lends a classic feel. This shot of my daughter Emily (certainly a starlet in the making) on vacation in Idyllwild, CA was achieved through these steps in Tonality:
- Choose Presets > Portraits > Glamour
- Adjust panel > increase Glow
- Tone > adjust Exposure down, increase Contrast a tiny bit
- Grain > modest level, 50
- Vignette > Place Center & dial down Vignette to make the edges darker
I think it’s a blast to recreate the classic looks of the past and hope that you will take time to experiment with the many, many styles that Tonality will let you achieve.