Cross processing, or XPro, is a photo editing effect with its origins in the darkroom. It was the style that emerged after photographers started intentionally processing their film with the wrong chemicals. The unique and unpredictable color shifts and grungy contrasts that came out resulted in an entire aesthetic trend, which skyrocketed into popularity in the eighties and nineties and was used heavily in the fashion and design industries.
Today, cross processing is easier than ever to incorporate into your photos. Whereas before, you couldn’t be sure how cross processing your photos would make them look, lots of mobile photo editing apps have incorporated it into their features and allow you to play around with the settings to get exactly the look you want.
Though some lament the lack of surprise in this approach, if you’re gonna do it, you may as well do it right and get the look you actually want. There are a lot of free online photo editing resources out there to help you.
Here are five tips for images that just might benefit from an XPro makeover and that will leave you begging for more.
- Give It a Grungy Edge
The cross processing effect’s ability to alter color has enormous potential to enhance a retro look that may already be present in your image. The mobile photo editing app PicsArt Photo Studio gives you the ability to apply photo effects to certain parts of an image, so you can control which elements in your composition become “cross processed.” In this photograph, the purple overlay and faded feel works with the natural composition (the graffiti and old Soviet fountain, stained with age) to give this photo an even grungier edge.
- Bring Out The Beautiful Details
You can also apply the cross processing effect to nature images to turn a somewhat bland image into an epic one. This example ups the contrast to bring more visibility to the flying birds in an serene photograph. The shades of blue, green, and yellow are also enhanced for a more intense and attractive range of colors.
- Create Some Powerful Portraits
Portraits provide excellent opportunities to utilize cross processing effects with outstanding results. The high contrast generates interest in the subject, as the dark lines of the face are highlighted. Also, blurring the background in a separate layer is a nice way to highlight the cross processed effect in the subject.
- Double Exposure
Double exposure images already have an otherworldly feel, so a cross processing photo effect works really well on them. Try combining a portrait with a series of nature-themed images (you can do this in PicsArt, too), applying a cross processing effect, and cranking up the saturation for a really cool shot.
- Fine-Tune Your Fashion Photos
One of the first industries in which cross processing became a popular aesthetic trend was the fashion industry. Like a slick pair of faded denims, its faded hues and highlights are a killer touch. Here’s a pro tip: PicsArt also has a curves tool that lets you adjust the reds, greens, and blues all from your mobile device to ensure that the colors you want are exactly the colors you get.
Feeling inspired? Give the cross processing photo trend a try on your own shots!