07 Emulate film in Lightroom
Use presets to give your images instant impact with one click
As any wedding photographer will tell you, getting the ‘film’ look in portraits is all the rage at the moment – but it’s not just about wedding images. We’ve entered a post-Instagram age, where adding a retro look to an image is no longer enough. There’s now a big demand for sophisticated Lightroom presets and Photoshop Actions that emulate the look of classic film and scanners.
It’s not hard to understand why. Until digital came along, some truly wonderful film stock was being made. One thinks of Kodachrome, loved by Steve McCurry, or Velvia, a big hit with landscape photographers. With presets, you can have the best of both worlds: the potentially rich tones of film and the convenience of digital.
Lightroom presets are particularly easy to use. All you need to do is drop them into the Develop Presets folder, then restart Lightroom. You then get a quick one-click fix that can significantly reduce your image-processing time and help to keep your stylistic images consistent. As well as commercially sold presets, you can get some good free ones at and
We’ve also got 12 presets on this month’s disc.
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* Good commercial presets to try include those made by vsco.com, mastinlabs.com and gettotallyrad.com. Kirk Mastin’s Portra presets are particularly good for portraits, because they give accurate-looking skin tones. * Presets are great for giving your work a consistently attractive look, but they aren’t a panacea for poor camera technique or under-exposure. They work best with a well-exposed shot taken in appropriate light. * Presets are only a starting point. Often you’ll need to make further adjustments to key parameters such as white balance and noise.