My home is a menagerie of old and new, filled with well-loved, well-worn furniture, knotty pine floors with plenty of dents and nicks, mismatched vintage cups and plates, an antique rug from the 1930’s, collections of old books… It’s no surprise that this wabi sabi love affair finds its way into most of my iPhone photo edits. Several iPhone photography apps can give your photos a worn, weathered retro feel; as if you put them through a digital time machine. Try converting your photos to sepia or black and white and apply antiquing filters and effects to soften their tones and evoke an old-time feel and sense of connection to the past.
I’ll let you in on my biggest post-processing secret for achieving a vintage style. Most often I use my go-to, all-time favorite app Vintage Scene FX by JixiPix. It’s available as a mobile app as well as a desktop app for Macs and PCs.
Vintage Scene FX has a plethora of ‘worn paper’ filters, old-time photo borders, and adjustment features that allow you to control the strengths of the filter applications as well as the strength of the image itself. The app has a cool randomizing feature (accessed by the dice icon located at the top of the app interface) which I often use as my starting point. I tap on the dice and see what kind of image is generated. I keep tapping on the randomizer until one of the results gives me a feeling in the gut where I know I’m on to something good. Once it does, I further tweak the application with the controls to get it just right.
Another Tip: Before running my photos through Vintage Scene FX, I’ll usually convert them to black and white or sepia. I’ll often use filters in the apps Camera+, Muller Photo, or Pic FX to achieve this.
Additional Apps That can “Age” Your Photos:
Mextures (especially the ‘Grit and Grain’ and ‘Emulsion’ filter sets within the app)
Hipstamatic (their Tintype Snappak)
A Few Pointers for Giving your Photographs a Time-Worn Feel:
1. Certain types of photographs are the perfect match for this type of application. Try portraits with sparse backgrounds and serious expressions, still life scenes of flora, and landscape scenes devoid of modern-world structures and objects.
2. Convert your photograph to sepia or black and white. Some apps, like MonoVu, will automatically do that for you, but most ‘antiquing’ apps won’t. Just convert the photo to monochrome first, perhaps with a filter from the app Camera+.
3. If you wish to utilize color, have mostly muted tones in the scene with one or two splashes of color that pop. French Photographer Sarah Moon is expert at this.
4. Try app stacking with a variety of the aforementioned apps. For example, apply a black and white filter with Camera+, then run it through Vintage Scene FX to find a pleasing application, and finally take it into Mextures to add further texture. Don’t overdo the applications and be sure to reduce the opacity sliders for more subtle effects. Another idea is to make several versions and then combine them together with an app like Image Blender.
Inspiring Photographic Examples:
Susan Tuttle is an award-winning iPhoneographer and DSLR photographer from Maine, USA. She is the author of three instruction-based books (published in the US and abroad by F+W Media, North Light Books) on the subject matter of digital art with Photoshop, mobile photography and DSLR photography, and mixed-media art. Her fourth book, Art of Everyday Photography: Move Toward Manual and Make Creative Photos (about DSLR photography and mobile photography) was recently released by North Light Books and has been a best-seller in its category on Amazon.
Susan currently offers two online photography courses — The Art of iPhoneography Self-Portraiture and Co-Lab: Paint, Paper and iPhoneography Magic (co-taught with best-selling author and mixed-media artist Alena Hennessy). Susan is currently the Technical Advisor for Somerset Digital Studio Magazine. You can view more of her work, explore her blog, and find workshop details at her website SusanTuttlePhotography.com