Tag Archives: sepia photography

Sepia Tone in the Old West – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

It seems to me that whenever I come across photo opportunities that are of the old west, my mind immediately thinks “What would this look like in a sepia tone?” The sepia tone gives photography an old rustic look since it dates back to the 1880’s and is a familiar sight from photography taken in the old west. Living in the Phoenix area, there are plenty of opportunities to capture shots from that time period. A couple of weeks ago, we had family visiting and decided we wanted to go up to Tortilla Flats for lunch. None of us had been out there in a number of years and thought it would be fun. For those of you that are wondering what Tortilla Flats is, it is a replica of an old west town (and I use the term loosely) that houses a restaurant,  saloon, ice cream parlor, gift shop and small museum. Tourist attraction, you say…absolutely but based on actual history. It was a stagecoach stop and originated as a camping ground for prospectors searching for gold in the surrounding Superstition Mountains. Needless to say, there are numerous “Old West” photo opportunities. I wanted to share a couple of shots that I took that day and walk you through my “sepia” process to create that old rustic look to the photos.

Both shots actually look good in color, but for someone who wants an art print of the rustic old west, they typically are looking for the sepia tone as they decorate a room around that warm earth tone.

Old West Mine 1

Old West Mine 1

The first shot is of a fake gold mine; the “Lost Dutchman Gold Mine” which is rumored to be loaded with a cache of gold somewhere in the Superstition Mountains. This setting is part of the “ambience” of Tortilla Flats and created a great photo opportunity.

In this second shot, I converted the photograph to a sepia tone using Photoshop. The look now takes on an age by using this color.

The last shot shows the sepia tone, but with a light filter darkening the edges, creating a focal point, depth, and drama completing the look I am going for.

Old West Window 1

Old West Window 1

This next shot is of an old wooden window partially boarded up (again… ambience for the setting) and a great photograph. I like the color in this shot as it pulls the wood grains out, but for purposes of an art print portraying the look of this era, I convert to sepia, which is the next shot.

And then doing the same lighting treatment as in the first series, I finish up with an art print that has a touch more drama to complete the look I was going for.


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“Plug The Roof” The Art Print of the Week

I updated my Sepia Gallery this week and the art print of the week is one of the new additions. This print is a shot of two dilapidated farm buildings (ok, let’s be candid…shacks). The back one has an obvious roof problem. The front one has moss covering the roof. I originally spotted these buildings from the freeway one day and they stuck with me. Later, I decided to get closer to them for a photo shoot which required hiking through a very marshy field to get the angle I wanted. I decided to use the sepia tone on this art print because of the obvious aged condition of the structures and sepia unto itself reminds us of old photographs. Actual location is just outside of Issaquah, Washington in the foothills of the Cascades.

Plug The Roof

Plug The Roof

source:  Sepia Gallery

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More Sepia Prints

I added about 25 new art prints to my Sepia Gallery located in my online art gallery: The Wall Gallery.  I wanted to share a few of them here. I love the sepia look for that old world rustic appearance. As I have discussed in prior blogs, the subject matter needs to lend itself to that same ‘feel”. Sepia prints work really well in a number of decors bringing an element of age and history.

Let’s start with the first picutre which I call “Abandoned Farm“. This shot was taken near the Amana Colonies, Iowa in mid February of this year. It was one of those shots that felt good, but I wasn’t sure until I looked at the print in full size. I liked it so much, I have used this shot as a basis for a watercolor and an oil. I like the overall composition and knew it would also look great as a sepia print.

The sepia tone makes it look like it could have been taken in the 30’s or earlier.

The next shot is of old farm equipment just sitting in a field. I took the picture near North Bend, Washington while I was hiking along the Snoqualmie River. This shot was taken with the sole intent of using it as a sepia print. The subject matter lent itself perfectly.

On that same hike, I came across the next two shots and also took them with the sole intent of using them for sepia prints. The aged look and composition spoke volumes to me….

This cabin was right on the banks of the Snoqualmie River. Just a few cabins up , I came across the next shot….

(I would also like to point out that the featured picture at the top of the post came from this same area of the river bank. I enjoyed the cat trying to hide in the shadows.)

So shifting geography, a couple of other prints from the other side of the country…New England.

The first print is of a house on Martha’s Vineyard. The age and weathering of this home lends itself to the sepia tone.

And for the last sample, a large sail boat harbored in a small fishing village in Maine.

Sail boats have that timeless look, especially the larger ones.

These are just a few of the samples I added to The Sepia Gallery….the subject matter in the gallery is “rustic or historic” in appearance. See what you think. Thanks!

Sepia Urns

I was going through some of my stock photography from a few years ago when I came across these prints. These three prints were taken on the grounds of the Kuleto Estate. The Kuleto Estate is a winery located above the Napa Valley. I highly recommend anyone going to the wine country in Northern California to schedule some time for a tour. It is by appointment only and is off the beaten path, but the grounds of the estate and their wine are both incredible and worth the effort. That said, the estate has an eclectic mix of imported  items giving it a look somewhere between Tuscany and Mexico. These shots are part of one of the main fountains. I thought the urns and iron pot lent themselves well to a sepia look.

The texture of the pot and the grapevine planted in it, make this an old world look which the sepia tones augment. This pot along with similar ones sit by the fountain. The fountain is comprised of large urns that bubble water….see next picture.

Notice the two iron pots with grape vines framing the shot. The large urns were imported for this fountain and if my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was from Mexico.

I love the texture of the pots and the sutlety of the bubbling water….you have to look close to see it  coming out of the urns.

The entire feel of the fountain is “Old World”, which I think the sepia tones highlight.

I will soon be adding these shots and a few more to my Sepia Gallery located in my main art gallery. If you like sepia tone prints, please take a look.