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How to alter photos

Back when I was using a film camera, I managed to collect tons of shots that were…well, ok…but certainly not remarkable. Fortunately, I saved them. All of them. (Remember our motto here: don’t throw out anything! I practice what I preach.)

Anyway, I’ve learned a number of very fun and fairly easy altering techniques that can be used on photos, so if you have already thrown out all your duds, just have a handful of your digital shots printed out. Many techniques work on shots printed on either photographic or regular printer paper (like inkjet prints), but I like the way the real photographs respond the best. Your mileage may vary.

Here’s what I did to these poor photographs:

1. Soak them briefly in water to soften the top layer. Rub all or parts of the photos with medium grit sandpaper while they are still damp. The “Long and Winding Road” is the only one that I thoroughly sanded. The others are selectively done.

2. Apply spots, streaks or lines of bleach. I used a Clorox pen on “Picture Yourself” to make the spots. I also used a thin film of bleach on some other areas of each photo to lighten them up. Rinse the bleach off really well. I used some mild soap as well to make sure that it was all gone. You’ll have to experiment to see how long each photo will need to be treated with bleach to get the look you want. I don’t think I left it on any of these for more than about 45 seconds.

3. Use water-soluble pastels to colorize your pictures. I like the surreal colors these give. Buff them with a piece of paper towel to really rub the color into the sanding cracks.

4. Use a Micron or Pitt pen to write on your photos.

5. Spray lightly with matte varnish to keep the pastels from rubbing off.

Copyright 2007 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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