This XXL Autochrome conversion is the third in a series of tutorials about this instantly recognisable photo look. This tutorial aims to replicate the ‘look’ using Adobe Photoshop Elements with the Elements XXL plugin.
Adobe Photoshop Elements on its own doesn’t have the flexibility or features to construct this ‘look’
but the third party plug-in from the Plugin Site expands the capability of Photoshop Elements.
This was the very first practical colour photographic process and was devised by the Lumière brothers in the first few years of the twentieth century.
It brought the recording of colour images within reach of the few rich enough to afford it, but more importantly it brought a view of early 20th century life within reach of later generations.
What You Need for an XXL Autochrome
What You Need to Know
The Autochrome Characteristics
Choosing a Suitable XXL Autochrome image
Step One – Contrast Control
It’s always good practice to not work
on the original image layer, so duplicate the background layer.
Layer > Duplicate layer
The histogram shows that the image is not too contrasty so we may just get away with the contrast as it is. The curve sits in the middle of the graph and there are no lost pixels at either end. Otherwise Enhance > Adjust lighting > Brightness/Contrast
Finer adjustments can be made using Enhance > Adjust lighting > Curves.
Step Two – Sharpness Control
You don’t need to make the image blurry for an XXL Autochrome; just take the edge off the sharpness. For my approximate 4500 by 3000 pixel image, blurring of 1 to 2 pixels is enough Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
Step Three – Grainy effect
You will need to access each of the colour channels in turn (Red/Green/Blue).
Image > Channels > Red and then Filter >Noise > Add Noise - Add about 30 units to the value.
Image > Channels > Green and then Filter > Noise > Add Noise - Add about 40 units to the value.
Image >Channels > Blue and then Filter >Noise > Add Noise - Add about 50 units to the value.
Of course you may decide to make some changes to the suggested values for your XXL Autochrome.
Finally click onto the RGB channel to reveal your work so far.
Step Four – Colour Balance Control
Now we can add a slight magenta cast to the image. Not all Autochromes exhibit this. You may decide to omit this step.
We need to go back to the channels dialogues in turn. In turn select the red, blue and green curves.
Ever so slightly at the centre of each curve, bend ...
Image > Channels > Blue then Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Curves and bend the blue curve up.
Image >Channels> Green then Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Curves and bend the green curve down.
Image > Channels > Red then Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Curves and bend the red curve up.
Finally click onto the RGB channel to reveal your work on your XXL Autochrome so far.
Step Five – Saturation Adjustment
Now add a saturation adjustment - Enhance > Adjust Colour > Adjust Hue Saturation.
Add about 30 units to the red value and slightly less to the blue.
Step Six – Warming The Image
Not all Autochromes show warming. But here’s how to achieve it.
Layer > New Fill layer > Solid Colour - Click the dialogue box OK when it appears.
Choose a warm orange/yellow.
Change the blending mode of the layer to overlay and the opacity to about 35%.
Alternatively, you can add a Photo Layer and choose a warm filter.
And there you have it – an Autochrome.
Here's a side-by-side before and after and a large version of the final image.
You can add ‘damage’ to age the image or a border on your XXL Autochrome – but that’s personal taste and outside the scope of this tutorial.
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