52 Project

Create Nostalgia in Your Images with an Easy Curves and Channels Conversion


Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. It carries within it memory and desire.

Evoking nostalgia with an image is not an easy thing to do, unless you achieve this by specifically choosing content that evokes childhood memory, or memory of a lost love, for instance, or a memorable trip somewhere exotic.

But how do you use the power of color to evoke nostalgia? This tutorial will show you an easy, step-by-step conversion using Photoshop to create nostalgic photos. In the conversion, you will learn how to add subtle duotones in your photograph that will help you create sentimentality in the image.

An image that works well in monochrome works best for this processing technique.

What types of photos work?

For this conversion, we have to work from a monochrome base, so it’s good to choose photos that look good in black and white: high-contrast photos that use light and dark to highlight what’s in the frame.

After you choose your photo, open it in Adobe Photoshop. Any version will do.

Step 1. Make a copy of the image, so you can work on it without changing the original.



Step 2. Create a Black and White of the image on the current layer.



Step 3. On the black and white layer, go to Adjustments>Curves.


Step 4. Choose the Red Channel on your Curves window. Move the curve according to what hues you want in this channel.



Step 5. Go through the same process with the Green Channel curve.



Step 6. Go through the same process with the Blue Channel curve. You get the picture.

Step 7. This is an OPTIONAL step. You can dodge and burn using a non-destructive technique previously shown here on Imagine That! And your image is ready!

The mostly red brick background and the light on the statues made this an easy duotone choice.
I chose a bluish cast on this conversion because it helps the image show how the stone statues were cool to the touch.

Although you might not be the mushy type, this conversion is useful to make dramatic duotone images and it works with landscapes really well. Why not give it a try this week, and see what emotion you can create in your images?

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