As easy as most programs make it to turn photos black and white and sepia, I still make my special effects from scratch. Why? I think the images are clearer and you have more control over the final outcome when you are the person controlling every element.
When you create a special effect yourself, you can also control the amount of each color that ends up in your image. You can make your image be just blacks and white, purples and whites or even just adjust it so your sepia tone is on the reddish side of brown. It gives you ultimate control. Here is a simplified way of making your own special effects.
First, open your image in Photoshop. Then go to Image drop down menu, then to Adjustments, then to Hue/Saturation.
Slide your saturation bar all the way to the left, or 0. This is show in the photo below.
Then go to your layers screen. Click the small circle that is half white, half black at the bottom of the pallet. A menu will pop up, select color balance when you see that menu.
A menu will then pop up that will give you the option of which colors you want more represented in your photos.
Sliding the top slide towards the red instead of the cyan, will start to give you a nice sepia tone.
If you slide the top slider towards the red, the middle towards magenta and the bottom towards yellow, it start to define the sepia tone even more. There is no magical amount that will turn any photograph the perfect sepia, that is why sepia photos often look flat when done with one click in a program. You are going to have to toggle the buttons back and forth to find what looks good.
There is not reason you have to keep to browns and blacks. You can easily switch to another hue and give your photo some zap. I like to switch my Tone Balance from the default midtones to the shadows before adding a little color, so that my color will mostly manifest itself in the shadows.
One of my favorite looks, is a photo that is almost sepia, but with some reddish accents. You can do that my selecting your shadow color tone and then slide everything towards the right a little bit.
Like I said, there is not magical amount you need to change a photo to get just the right hue. You are just going to have to load up the image and play with it. Once you figure out how to do this, you have a whole world of color at your finger tips, you can add red, purple, green, blue, yellow accents and more. Changing the hues yourself, instead of letting a program change them for you, takes just a little bit longer, but the image clarity and tone is worth it in the end.
What fun colors would you put in your photos?