Photographers are never happy. We couldn’t stop complaining about our dirty, faded colour transparencies when they were all we had, and we couldn’t wait to swap to nice, clean, everlasting digital images… only now they’re the norm, we miss our grubby old transparencies.

So I’m going to use Perfect Effects to try to recreate that old transparency look, complete with the characteristic round-cornered Kodachrome frame, some random dust and debris, faded colours and even a minor light leak for good measure.

Perfect Effects Kodachrome

I’ve started with a Pentax D-SLR image I shot in Bruges a couple of years ago on a press trip, but I want to turn it into something that reminds me of another trip I took years before the digital revolution, armed with a Pentax MX and a couple of rolls of Kodachrome.

I am slowly warming to Perfect Effects, which is part of OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite. I still don’t find it as intuitive or as effective as Nik/Google Color Efex Pro, but once you get to grips with its sometimes odd way of working (you’ll see this in the walkthrough), you can get it to produce some striking and interesting effects. One reason for this is the sheer range of effects available, the other is the way you can combine them in layers.

01 The Perfect Effects interface

Perfect Effects Kodachrome

Perfect Effects displays a tools and layer panel on the right, and when it first starts your image is on the ‘Original’ background layer, and a new layer has been created above ready for the filter effect you choose. These are displayed as a list in the panel in the left.

02 Choose an effect

Perfect Effects Kodachrome

When you select a category (I’ve clicked on ‘Vintage’) it expands to show a set of thumbnails which preview each preset effect on your photo. In this case I like the look of the ‘Brandon’ effect (1) second from the top. This is applied to the image in the main window and over on the right you can see that the new layer now contains this effect.

But now I want to add another effect on top of this. I’ve got the faded look I’m after, but I need a border that’s reminiscent of Kodak’s old cardboard Kodachrome mounts. What I need, then, is another effect, and below the layer thumbnails in the tools palette (2) there’s an ‘Add’ button which creates a new layer on top of the existing ones.

03 The Dirty Viewfinder effect

Perfect Effects Kodachrome

OK, so now I’ve found just the thing I need in the Borders – Camera section of the filters panel. It’s meant to replicate what you see when you look into a dirty viewfinder eyepiece, but it’s also a good simulation of a dusty old Kodachrome slide.