Achieve a Vintage Film Look without Presets

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 10.06.51 PMLearn how to add a film look to your images without presets


Film emulation presets like VSCO are cool and all, but it really doesn’t require an expensive plugin to add some film like character and tones to a digital image. Here are 7 quick tips for adding a film look to your photos in Adobe Lightroom!

Lift the Blacks

Probably the most common effect used for obtaining a vintage look is called Raising the Blacks. To do this open the Tone Curve and click to add a point about 1 quarter in from the left. Next click and drag the left corner up.

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Mute the Highlights

Similar to lifting to blacks, pulling down on the highlights helps bring any pure whites into a softer gray which looks less like the image was created on a digital camera.

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Images that are a little underexposed seem can help add a bit of nostalgia to images. By underexposing you will push more of the image into the shadows (which we muted in the first tip) and helps isolate the subject from the darks.

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Warm it Up

Moving the Temp slider to the right slightly will help warm up images.


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Split Tone

Split toning to add just a slight color shift to your image is another great way to emulate film. Usually adding a orange color to the highlights and cyan to the shadows works well. Just play with the sliders until you find the look you are going for.


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Add Some Grain

Photos taken with a digital camera look a little too perfect. Adding just a slight amount of grain helps add more character to the final image.

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Add Vignetting

A little bit of vignetting can add draw more attention to the subject of the photo and introduce a vintage look. I typically use the Paint Overlay style, and the Amount slider to get the right amount of vignetting.

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 Bonus Tip: Shoot into the Sun

Shooting with the sun behind your subject is a great way to add a vintage feel to a photo. Just make sure to expose for your subject!


Have more tips? Leave us a comment!


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