This third entry in our series on digital toning will center on what is often referred to as “Antique Toning.”  As we’ve previously discussed, digital toning presets are a popular feature set in Lightroom and most imaging software.  We’ll be exploring the genesis of the most common toning presets and how they apply to our photography. Check out the first in the series about Cyanotypes, and the second on Sepia.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F11 1/80th ISO 400

This third entry in our series on digital toning will center on what is often referred to as “Antique Toning.”  As we’ve previously discussed, digital toning presets are a popular feature set in Lightroom and most imaging software.  We’ll be exploring the genesis of the most common toning presets and how they apply to our photography. Check out the first in the series about Cyanotypes, and the second on Sepia.

For over a hundred years before it was called “digital toning” it was known as “chemical toning.” Black and white photography was enhanced by the addition of certain chemicals, and in the case of antique toning this chemical was an inexpensive silver variant.  Of course now antique toning is but a preset away.

As always, the big question we deal with currently is when to appropriately use these different types of toning.  Antique toning is very friendly in this regard as it lends itself well to a variety of image types.  It’s very popular for weddings both for its classy time honored look, and because it helps isolate the subject from the background, giving the effect of reducing clutter and instead focusing on the subjects.  This is especially useful when the background has heavy darker colors.

In the image above antique toning mutes the heavy green foliage behind the couple, nulls the bright red of the bridge and the green moss colored water, leaving the newly married couple standing out in the frame.  It works and it works well.  Better, it’s very popular and well received.

 

Another example of using antique toning with a wedding couple.  The same variables apply except for the busy background.  Even though the background is simple, it’s bright green foliage contrasted sharply with their almost yellow wedding gown/suit.  The dirt in the foreground was unsightly and distracting.  It was a terrible image in color.  Now, with the application of antique toning, you get pleasing colors with the bride and groom standing out from the background with their faces and expressions as the focal point.  Timeless.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM @F8 1/100th 50mm ISO 100

Another example of using antique toning with a wedding couple.  The same variables apply except for the busy background.  Even though the background is simple, it’s bright green foliage contrasted sharply with their almost yellow wedding gown/suit.  The dirt in the foreground was unsightly and distracting.  It was a terrible image in color.  Now, with the application of antique toning, you get pleasing colors with the bride and groom standing out from the background with their faces and expressions as the focal point.  Timeless.

 

But of course it’s not appropriate for all images as we can see with the lady tending the beach bar.  This works much better in color with the clear blue water in the background, the copper colored roof thatching, the colorful bottles, and the brown skinned bartender with the blue blouse.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM @F8 1/40th 135mm ISO 100

But of course it’s not appropriate for all images as we can see with the lady tending the beach bar.  This works much better in color with the clear blue water in the background, the copper colored roof thatching, the colorful bottles, and the brown skinned bartender with the blue blouse.

Give the antique toning a try on some of your images and see if you can find one where it works for you. If you like, send it in and tell me why and we’ll publish it in the weekly column.