Using Curves on Lightroom to Get the Vintage Film Look

Add the popular vintage film look to your arsenal of Lightroom editing skills with this quick Curves tutorial.

The so-called film look or vintage aesthetic remains a popular visual style among photographers, whether they get it through shooting film or experiment with digital filters and presets. Nothing does it better than shooting with actual film cameras, but if you’re a digital shooter it’s still a look you can achieve. If you’re using Adobe Lightroom to edit your photos and want to know how you can use it to get the film look, here’s a quick tutorial that will cover working with Curves.

In his quick video below. Luis Morais shares his Lightroom tips on using a combination of minor edits and using Curves to create a nice vintage look in your photos. This will be particularly useful if you’re still experimenting with editing on Lightroom and want to learn more ways to breathe life to your snaps.

First, apply some basic edits as necessary. In this image, cropping, adding a bit of contrast, adjusting the shadows, and bringing down the highlights using the graduated filter were done. The goal in this particular shot, as Morais mentioned, is to place a little bit of emphasis on the camera itself.

Next comes using the Tone Curve to bring out the colors and tones to finally achieve the vintage film effect. Adjust the blacks (leftmost part of the graph), mid-tones, and highlights (rightmost part) to either brighten or darken them to decrease or increase contrast. To tweak the colors, adjust the color channels (Red, Blue, Green) to taste as well. Feel free to experiment with these adjustments to create the look you want. It would help if you study different film looks so you’ll be able to reproduce them more effectively. You can also include grain and bring the dehaze tool down to replicate the textured, hazy look of film.

Check out Luis Morais’ YouTube channel to see more of his photography videos.

Cover image from the video