Documentary ‘gritty’ effect

At our last camera club meeting, Janey Devine FRPS gave a great presentation on documentary photogprahy. Many of her images had a destarurated, slightly-matte view and we asked her about this.

This is the technique she described, and how I did a quick version on one image. The image here is of Bishop's Waltham palace. (I've already processed this image in Lightroom quite extensively, this is the original if you're interested)

But first..

I don't have Photoshop, and my copy of Elements is ancient (well about 10 years old). Virtually all of my editting is done in Lightroom v5 (again probably ancient!). However for this we need layers, so I've use Paint.NET. Windows only, but it is free, and is also very very good.


I loaded the original image, and used a simple mono conversion - Select from the Adjustments menu.

We'll need the layers view open, if it's not then this is the icon you need to clik

This is the panels view, and you'll see a single mono image, labeled as background.

Next step is to bring in another layer, but with the original colour image. You can do this from the layers-> Import from file... menu

and select the full colour image.

The layers view will show two images now, with the colour image at the top.

Ensure that the layer at the top, has a blue background meaning it's the active layer. Click on it in the layers view if not.

The magic bit: click on the spanner in the layers view. Here, you need to change the Blend Mode to multiply, and change the opacity to 120

This is then the final image, ready for any other processing you may wish; and I think there is plenty left to do on this I think. The original colour image, I made sure the stone work was a focus of the image so was lightened. Same needs to happen here.


Can't you duplicate layers?
Yes, I could have imported the colour image, then duplicated the layer, and then converted one to mono

Is the order important?
Yes and No.

Can you clarify that?
The multiply effect will give the same result no matter what order the layers are in. When it says multiply it really does do multiplication on the pixels. Multiplication is commutative, 4 x 5 is the same as 5 x 4.

Multiply will give a generally darker image, that would need to be lightened. In other software, I'd have then added an adjustment layer to rasie the brightness. However Paint.NET doesn't have adjustment layers. Therefore I put the colour image on the top layer and used the layer opacity to get the same overall result

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