Early Bird

I took this picture yesterday at the local cafe with the Instagram filter Early Bird applied:


I also saved the original image.  On Instagram, Early Bird is pretty much my go-to warming filter.  For a softened sepia-tone look, the image is brightened overall but the contrast is reduced slightly before a yellow-hue filter is applied.  But that’s not all that is going on.  If all you did was tint the whole image yellow, the image would be overwhelmingly yellow and it would look like you didn’t know how to use the white balance feature on your camera.  Instead, to give it some more depth, a secondary color (not necessarily complementary) must also be emphasized in the photo, in this case it’s magenta, which, when applied to the shadows, results in a deep purple tint to the blacks in the image.

This was the (cropped) original image that I started with:


And below the layers pallette used to achieve something approximating the Early Bird filter.  This was much more complex than the X-Pro II photojob, and quite possibly there is a simpler way to achieve the same result.  Anyhow:


Working layer by layer from the bottom up:

  1. Curves: I used curves to brighten the image overall.  You can use brightness/contrast, levels, etc, there are any number of ways to achieve this.
  2. Drawing Layer 1 (Vignette):  This layer is obviously optional, but since the filter had a vignette I felt obligated to add one.  There are two ways to do this actually.  One I described in the last entry, which is slightly more flexible, and the other using feathered selection and delete feature, which is slightly quicker.  One day I will talk about that second way, maybe.
  3. Color Balance:  My color balance sliders look like this for shadows, highlights and midtones:

    Notice the magenta-heavy shadows and midtones and highlights that lean yellow.  I also found that some cyan was necessary to keep the whole picture from getting too red.
  4. Brightness and Contrast: Only used to bring down contrast slightly.
  5. Photo Color Filter:  Below are my settings for the photo filter.  The color I used was a mustard yellow (#c0992f) with 73% filter density.
  6. Drawing Layer 2 (Rounded Corners):  This layer just rounds out the corners, with a radius something like 200px.  Filled this layer with solid white, then, adding a layer mask to this region, drew in a black square with rounded corners to exclude the center of the image.

This is the result:

And a side-by-side comparison:

1. Instagram 2. Photoshop

Notice:  I didn’t quite get the vignette color right.  Bit too red where as the Instagram picture is more brown.  Also I didn’t bother to do the texture on the border.  There will be plenty of time for textures later. :]


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