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Image Editing Tutorial - Sepia Toning


Image Editing Tutorial - Sepia Toning

There are plenty of tutorials out there showing you how to restore old photos, but what if you want to do the exact opposite? How can you take a modern full-colour digital photograph and make it look like it was shot 60 years ago?

The classic look for old photographs is something called "sepia toning". Sepia toned photographs have a distinctive yellow-brown colour. It was popular up until at least the 1920s, so you've probably seen examples of it in old photo albums. Any photos of your grandparents or great-grandparent in their youth will probably be sepia toned. Here's a photo of my grandfather taken in Cologne in 1918, during the allied occupation at the end of the first world war. It's a little battered, but it is 90 years old and he did carry it in the pocket of his uniform for a few years.

This sepia effect is quite easy to reproduce using any of the popular image editing programs. I'm going to use Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 as usual, but the same technique will work in any program that has a hue and saturation control.

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