Alibony Lessons for Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Digital Photography

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Photoshop Elements: Photochrom Vintage Postcard

Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 6

March 15, 2008

Turn your travel photos into vintage postcards. This effect is based on old photochrom photos, like the one shown in the About Photochroms section of this lesson. This technique works best on colorful photos that have good contrast and lots of detail, especially architectural detail. For best results:

  • If necessary, adjust the color tone and contrast of your photo before you begin.
  • If you have dull, washed-out skies, colorize the sky to add some blue before you begin.
Before After
Paris before Paris after

To create a vintage postcard:

  1. Open the image you want to use for the postcard.
  2. Duplicate the image on a new layer and apply a blending mode to the duplicate image:

    1. Press Ctrl+J to duplicate the image on a new layer above the background layer.
    2. In the Layers Palette, select the Color Dodge blend mode.
    3. At the top right of the Layers palette, reduce the layer Opacity to 65%. The image should look similar to the following:

      Color Dodge effect

  3. Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer above the duplicate layer:

    1. In the Layers Palette, click the New Adjustment layer icon and select Photo Filter.
    2. In the Photo Filter window, select the Sepia filter from the drop-down list.

    3. Uncheck Preserve Luminosity.
    4. Reduce the Density to 50%.
    5. Click OK.
  4. On the Photo Filter adjustment layer, add a blending mode and adjust opacity:

    1. Select the Multiply blending mode.
    2. At the top right of the Layers palette, reduce the layer Opacity to 50%
  5. On the same Photo Filter adjustment layer, add a Photographic Effects layer style:

    1. From the Windows menu, select Effects to open the Effects palette.
    2. In the Effects palette, click the Layer Styles icon, then select Photographic Effects from the drop-down list.
    3. Select the Orange Gradient effect.

    4. Click Apply.

    Sepia layer settings

  6. Create a new Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer above the Photo Filter layer. In the Brightness/Contrast window, adjust the contrast to +20 and click OK. Do not change any other settings.
  7. Create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above the Photo Filter layer. In the Hue/Saturation window, adjust the saturation to +20 and click OK. Do not change any other settings.

Your Layers palette should look something like this when completed:

Layers palette

About Photochroms

According to the American Photochrom Archive Gallery:

"A Photochrom is a color photo lithograph, produced from a black-and-white negative. The final prints were created using different color impressions from multiple lithographic stones."

This photographic technique became very popular in the 1890's, especially when the Post Office introduced the penny postcard.

The inspiration for this effect is shown below:

Paris photochrom Photochrom photo from the Library of Congress where you can find many public domain images and images you can use for personal projects. Search for "photochrom Eiffel."


Here is another example of this effect applied to a contemporary Paris photo:

Before After
Paris Mouche before Paris Mouche after
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Updated on July 31, 2013