Photoshop Tutorial – Faded Dirty Photos

A number of people have asked me how I processed the photos of Bug Jam recently, so here we have a step by step guide.

As these photos are only for posting on the web I processed them at 750 px x 500px rather than full size. This speeds up my work-flow. For anyone interested the shots were taken with a Canon 5D, 100-400 IS L, 24-105 IS L and some of the night shots were taken with a Canon IXUS IS 85. All processing was done in Photoshop CS4 although you should be able to achieve this with any photo processing software that supports layers. There are always lots of ways to achieve the same results, this is just the way I work.

The first thing I do when processing shots like this is to decide on a style and crate a template. So I start with a 750 px x 500px blank image.


I added a border to finish the photos in plain white. I did this by adding a solid white layer and cutting out a window.


Next I added my website logo in the corner of the image with a drop shadow. I also have a custom brush that paints my logo onto anything.


Adding the grime. I have a number of dirty paper images that I purchased from Shutterstock , I sold some of my photos through them and reinvested the money in some useful textures and backgrounds. I dragged the paper in as a new layer…


…then blended the paper onto the other layers using multiply and then faded the opacity to 50%.


Now I created a new blended fill layer in a selected area on the right of the image. This is to simulate a light leak on an old camera or Holga type camera. The negatives would often be exposed to light on one side when the sun had leaked into the back of the camera. This layer also had the opacity reduced.


With the template complete I can now get on with processing the actual photos. I just shot in JPEG rather than RAW, again to cut down on workflow time and as these were just for fun rather than criticial like magazine work. This is a panning shot taken from the grass banking at the Pod with the 100-400, camera set to Time Value of 1/125th second.


To process the colour I used an action from Totally Rad Actions called Troy. It’s one of thier free to try actions. I really must purchase the full set next time I have the cash.


The final step is to drag the colour processed photo onto the template so that the layers take effect and then save for web. Onto the next photo and again drag into the template and save.


So that is how I created the Bug Jam photos and gives you an idea about my work-flow. I hope you’ve found it useful, if you did let me know.


  • Jus


    Saw your Bug Jam pics on RR, followed the link here, very helpful.... I fully intend to try it out. Thanks Nick

  • Joachim Næss


    Thanks for sharing. I've allways don this the hard way, blurring and desaturating each picture. never thought about getting a action for it :)

  • Irving Brackman


    Wow, this is really nice info, cheers.

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required