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How to Create Sepia Tones

To add a cer­tain nos­tal­gic effect to pho­tos, many fine art pho­tog­ra­phers‚ enjoy chang­ing the colour of the pho­to­graph or actu­ally ton­ing the print to sepia. Using the dark­room to achieve your sepia effect is an option if you have the facil­i­ties avail­able. If not, you have two other options — an in cam­era option on many DSLRs and good old photoshop.

This image was printed in the darkroom and then toned in a sepia bath to get this rich brown colour.

Venus and Cupid by Marko Kulik — This image was printed in the dark­room and then toned in a sepia bath to get this rich brown colour.


Many dig­i­tal cam­eras now offer you the option of tak­ing the image in sepia (and other tones as well like blue, red, green etc.) This is quick and effi­cient for imme­di­ate results. It does have it’s lim­i­ta­tions though, like los­ing all of the colour infor­ma­tion in the image. This is why most pho­tog­ra­phers like to ‘play around’ with their photo in photoshop.

Pho­to­shop not only allows the option of con­vert­ing to sepia, but it fur­ther allows a whole range of brown/orange tones to choose from. Some artists pre­fer a more muted sepia, while oth­ers pre­fer it to appear more dras­tic. Either way, there is really a vast array of tones to choose from.

What­ever the method, just make sure of one thing — save an orig­i­nal copy of your photo just in case you decide that sepia wasn’t for you after all.

Here’s the link from our Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

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