Recapturing the Vibe of Old Time Photos – Fresh Finds

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After a long gap, I present you with another Fresh Finds and this time I have been browsing with an interest in recreating the look and style of old photos and other vintage visuals.

Old Photos - Girl in a vintage bathing suit

  • Bert Stern recreates Marilyn Monroe’s last photo shoot [CONTAINS NUDITY – If you are allergic, you have been warned]
    If you’ve been anywhere online that’s pop culture or entertainment-centric in the past week or so, you’ve probably come across the fact that Lindsay Lohan has posed for some Monroe-a-like nude photographs. Going beyond the tabloid facts, this is actually a great study for the challenge of recreating old photos, because in this case you have a photographer trying to recreate his own work from 46 years ago, for New York magazine. That has to be a unique situation, the results of which are worth a look.

    While Lohan is no Monroe, the photos themselves are interesting, though I get the feeling the shot selection to decide what goes into the magazine might have been a bit rushed. The set includes some beautiful shots and some mediocre ones, where it seems to be a split-second before or a split-second after what would have been a better composition. Also of interest to photography buffs will be the unfortunately sparse collage of shots behind the scenes of the shoot. Really nice dramatic stuff, on par, if not better than, the final presented pictures.

  • Kate Bosworth does Vogue retro shoot
    It would seem Kate Bosworth has also been up to retro photo shenanigans for the US edition of Vogue. Only in this case the inspiration is more indirect and what they came up with is more regular fashion photography with a retro twist. Some interesting images, with a bit of behind the scenes stuff to also keep you busy.
  • Achieving the vintage look
    If you’re interested in the mechanics and technicalities of producing images with that old-world flair using in-camera and studio techniques, this discussion should be of interest. While there is no step-by-step instruction for anything, there are many valuable tricks you can pick up along the way — everything from setting the right depth-of-field, to choosing the right lens.
  • Bokeh
    Bokeh is as much a specific phenomena as it is the lack of something, and that thing is sharpness. Bokeh is that particular smooth fuzzy look you only get when a camera lens is pointed at something that is out of focus. Ken Rockwell explains how this effect is formed and how it is actually being made difficult to achieve due to the increasing quality of camera lenses. Sometimes progress comes at a price. If you want to achieve those soft portrait photographs of old, you must understand bokeh.
  • Coco Chanel in action
    If you want to recreate old photographs you must study plenty of good examples. A wide variety of ‘study material’ is best. Take these crisp shots of Coco Chanel in her element, for example. They’re excellent examples of the photographic conventions of an era, but they are also simply great photos that any photographer can learn from. As the lady said, “Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”
  • Vintage Valentines Day Photos
    Vintage Japanese Photos
    For more inspiration, look no further than this embarrassingly large collection of old Valentines Day themed photographs, and this blog that is dedicated to posting old Japanese photos. Some of these images are not as staid and static as you might think. A lot of the composition and framing is as dramatic and challenging as any you would see today.
  • Alexia Death’s LOMO and Vintage Effects for GIMP
    GIMP Old Photo Tutorial
    If you’re more of a digital photographer, or would just like to recreate the vintage look with some of your existing images, software comes to your rescue. Here are some interesting automated scripts you can apply in the GIMP. For the more hands-on amongst you, there is also a detailed tutorial on how to create the typical sepia faded vintage look. There is plenty of room for your own personal adjustments in the described techniques.

And that brings us to the end of another round of Fresh Finds. Hope you enjoyed this little stroll down the photographic memory lane, and I hope you have got a few new ideas for recreating some old photo tricks. Enjoy.


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  1. I always find that my attempts sto age images in photoshop look good but not quite authentic enough and this really annoys me!

    I do have a thing for lomo photography. The rawness of it and some of the simple everyday imagery that it was originally used to capture is very appealing.

    1. I know what you mean about authenticity and Photoshop. I think it’s mainly a matter of practice. When I learn a new photo-editing technique or effect, I know I have the tendency to go over board with it. I’m gussing it’s the same with most people. In time and with enough practice, you learn to use these things in a more subtle way which is more authentic.

      Lomo photography is a very interesting phenomenon. It seems to be the first signs of a sort of anti-digital counter culture. I think that is a positive thing because film still has plenty to offer.

      As a teenager, when I was getting serious about photography and wanted to invest in a cheap SLR, I picked up a wonderful old tank of a Praktica body (German) with a Zenit lens (Russian) off the streets of Mumbai. While I shoot completely digital now due to convenience and the cost factor, I still carefully keep this original manual camera around. Shooting Black and White film with this old beast is a pleasure that cannot be replaced.

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