Simulating Daguerrotype in Photoshop

Daguerreotype is one of the first photographic processes. It was created in the 1800's by Louis Daguerre. In Daguerreotype, the images were captured on silver plated copper sheet sensitized with iodine and developed using mercury vapor. Daguerreotype images most commonly featured landscape and architecture due to the amount of time it took to capture the image. Because of the extended exposure time required to capture the image, Daguerreotypes that feature moving elements like people or water may appear to be blurred in that area. Using Photoshop to create a Daguerreotype may be a little complicated because of all the elements needed, but the following tutorial will give you step by step directions on how to create this vintage effect.

Materials Needed

  • Photoshop software
  • Image files

Step 1: Select the Image

Select an image that features a moving element to duplicate the blurred effect found in most Daguerreotypes. Choose an image with lots of detail since all color will be removed to create this effect. To remove the color from your image, open the image in Photoshop and select Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

Step 2: Add Movement

Next, determine what element in the photo you want to give movement to. Use the Magic Wands tool to feather along the edges of the element creating a slight blur. Add the feathering using Select > Feather and adjust the radius to the desired size. With the Magic Wand tool still active, press Ctrl+J to place the selected feature on a new layer. Then, select Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and adjust the Angle and Distance values to achieve the desired effect. Repeat this process for all the moving elements in the image.

Step 3: Create Metallic Base

Start by selecting a silver looking metallic texture from the color and texture palette. If you are unable to find the texture that you are looking for, search online clip art and background websites for the appropriate texture and import it to Photoshop. Once you have the perfect texture, create a new layer and fill with the texture. Change the Blending Mode to Multiply and adjust the amount of opacity allowing the original layers to show through the texture. Next, resize the texture layer to match by selecting Edit > Free Transform and resize as needed.

Step 4: Create Chemical Staining

In genuine Daguerreotypes, as they age, the edges become stained with orange and bluish colored chemical stains. These colors are caused by the oxidation of the silver plated copper base plate. Create a new layer using Overlay mode and select OK. Next, open the soft edge brush from the Dry Media Brush Tool and change the opacity to approximately 30 percent. Using orange and blue-green tones paint around the layer distributing the colors evenly in some areas and more concentrated in others.

Step 5: Finishing

After previewing the layered image, make any adjustments needed to each individual layer. Once you are are satisfied with your overall image, merge the layers together. After merging the layers, choose Select>Modify>Smooth to round the edges and give the image the look of a true Daguerreotype.


Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: