Cardiff Arcades Project: Forbesfield Flowers (or how to create the vintage look in Photoshop Elements)

Here’s another posts asking you very kindly to head over to my other blog where I’ve put up another new post documenting a beautiful shop in Cardiff’s Arcades. This time it’s the gorgeous Forbesfield Flowers, which will only actually exist in its current incarnation for a couple more weeks.

This is the kind of shop where you (or maybe it’s just me) can take a million photos and still not be done, so I had to try very hard to restrict myself here. I used my Canon 60D and combination of Sigma 10-20mm, Sigma 30mm and Canon 60mm macro lens to capture these shots.

I don’t usually spend a huge amount of time in post-processing… I prefer to be outside taking photos than sat inside fiddling with them. However, with the long Easter weekend and lots of good stuff on the radio, I decided to be a bit more adventurous. As the subject matter suited it, I went for a vintage look on many of the shots – something akin to wedding photography.

On my home computer, I don’t have Photoshop CS, getting by with Elements. After all, I’m usually only doing basic tweaks so it gets me through. That said, you can do so many things with this program – it just can take a little longer. For instance, although you can use “Actions”, you can’t create them in Elements. For those not too familiar with Photoshop terminology, an Action is basically a recording of a set of steps you took to achieve a certain look, which you can apply to a photo without having to repeat every single step each time. As I like this look so much, I think I might create the Action to use next time I get access to CS – I’ll make it available for download if anyone’s interested.

To achieve this look is pretty simple. Follow these steps if you’d like to recreate it:

1. Open the photo you want to work with and create a Levels adjustment layer. Make tweaks to the master levels to boost the contrast. Next, I create a separate Levels layer.

2. Select Red from the drop down box in the Levels command and move the grey slider somewhere between 25-45 (play around to see how it looks). Next move to Green and move the grey slider somewhere between 10-20 (again play around). Finally, move to the Blue and set the Output level to something between 20-40 (you know the drill by now, yeah?).

3. Make a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and make tweaks to the Hue depending on preference. As a lot of these shots were of beautiful coloured flowers, I didn’t want to go too far from the original, but feel free to experiment. I usually boosted the Saturation ever so slightly, and brought down the Red channel and gave that quick boost as well.

4. Make a Solid Colour Adjustment Layer. Select a sort of dark bluey-purplish colour. It doesn’t really matter too much which one, I went for #311772 if you’re interested. Next set to the Opacity to something like 30% – you could make it more or less, depending on how severe an effect you want.

5. Finally, change the Blending Mode of this Layer. I generally used Exclusion, but sometimes Difference looks nice.

Here’s a couple of before and after shots so you can see the difference. What you should end up with is a sort of soft, dreamy style. It won’t suit every subject and you’ve got to watch out by being tempted to use it for every shot (I also like the originals by the way).

Original edit
Original edit
With vintage effect applied
With vintage effect applied
Original edit
Original edit
With vintage effect applied
With vintage effect applied

See below for a little gallery of some of the shots from the post over on the Cardiff Arcades Project. Head over to the website to read more about the beautiful shop and see more lovely shots.


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