Leonard Higdon & Mary Ann McClure, 2nd step - background post-processing


My attempt didn’t work above, at right, because there was way too much black in the image, which was not there at the time of the tintype image capture. Look at the lighter area around Mary Ann’s face, that’s the type of gray that should be the entire background. So, what I did next was to use another approach — emulating, as the total background, the grays around Mary Ann’s face. I replaced my initial background image attempt with a mottled grayscale image below that is reminiscent of the original background in terms of tone and random spreading of a mottled pattern.

I started with a small (8”X10”) artist canvas (a same size piece 1/8th inch thick card stock works as well). I painted it with watercolors in a random pattern (oil paints would be better, but take longer to dry). After the painting was safely dried, I scanned the pattern (cell phone photo captures works just as well). I auto-adjusted the black & white levels, and blurred the image slightly (3 pixels). Under filters, I used the clouds filter and then reduced contrast. 

I placed the post-processed gray mottled image at the back of the photo image layer stack below, and adjusted luminosity darker as needed to highlight the lighter faces and clothes of Leonard & Mary Ann. This technique sound complicated, but it’s actually easy to do, and yields an image than can be edited in many other ways as well to get an effect you desire by using the filter gallery in Photoshop, or similar photo image manipulation software.

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