How to Create Vintage-Colored Photographs (Or Natural Sepia)

Over the weekend, I set out to create some sweet bokeh (blurry background) in my photos. I wanted a fun lighting project to do with my photography students, and I thought shaped bokeh would be the answer. After much research, I found a blog on Pinterest that had a tutorial on exactly what I was attempting. If you are interested in more information about this technique, check out the I heart Faces site for the tutorial I followed.

In short, the tutorial explained how to make a hood with a dye-cut shape on it to let the light in. The idea is that you can focus on your subject like normal, and the lights in the background will take on the shape of the cut out.

In my usual fashion of not following directions, I improvised a little on the making of the hood. Instead of black construction paper, I used brown felt. I figured they were both dark and both would cover the lens, so it wouldn't make a difference. Instead of using a shaped hole punch, I (and later my husband because my art skills are seriously lacking) freehand cut the shape out of the felt.

 The photo to the left is the end result. Not quite the look I was trying to achieve, but still pretty cool.

Following are my step-by-step instructions on how to create this look:

-brown felt (I used a 6x6in square)
-cutting mat
-cutting tool (rotary cutter and/or x-acto knife)
-yard stick or other long, straight object
-rubber band

1. Lay felt flat on cutting mat.

2. Line yard stick up with lines on cutting mat.
Measure six inches. 
3. Use rotary cutter (or x-acto knife) and yard stick to cut a straight line.

4. Rotate fabric and repeat, to create a square that is 6x6.

5. Use x-acto knife to cut out desired shape.
(We did a star)

6. Stretch fabric over lens (make sure to remove the cap first!)
Center the cut out over the lens opening. 
Secure with rubber band.

The felt lets through just enough light to expose the picture well. You might have to adjust settings - higher ISO (bigger number), wider aperture (smaller number), and slower shutter speed (smaller number) to have the right amount of light. The cut out in the felt causes a slight vignette in the edges of the photo. The brown felt casts an orangish-brownish hue to the photos, causing them to look older than they are. Mix that with some great antique items, and you have yourself a Pinterest-worthy vintage photo shoot!

This effect makes everything look cool. It even made my least favorite piece of furniture not so ugly. 
(Seriously though, this flower pattern needs to go...)

None of these photos were post-produced at all. The effect on them was created entirely by shooting through the felt. No sepia filter or color adjustments needed! The images are ready to post as soon as you shoot them! Even though this shoot did not create the effect I was hoping for, it still turned out to be a fun project. All in all, if you wanted shaped bokeh, don't use felt. In fact, I have not successfully achieved that look.  I will keep trying for the shaped bokeh, and yaybe I will discover another cool effect in the process....


Popular Posts