Go retro with your RAWs

If you’re a fan of the clas­sic sepia look, this month Dan Mold shows you how to recre­ate it in Adobe Cam­era Raw for vin­tage film charm.

Practical Photography (UK) - - October -

We show you how to mimic film grain, cre­ate vi­gnettes and ap­ply a sepia tone.

IT’S HARD TO RE­SIST THE rus­tic charm of clas­sic film pho­tos. The mod­ern world is full of high-res, su­per-sharp dig­i­tal im­agery, so the scratched, faded and tar­nished aes­thetic of an old photo is very re­fresh­ing. The good news is it’s easy to bring this style to any im­age and here we’re go­ing to show you how to re­move colour and add your own sepia tone, then in­ject ex­tra grain and a vi­gnette to com­plete the retro look that’s cur­rently all the rage. We’ll be us­ing Pho­to­shop CC’s built-in RAW con­verter, Adobe Cam­era Raw, to pull it off, but you can repli­cate the re­sults in Light­room if you pre­fer, which has sim­i­lar pan­els and tools. Here’s how you can do it...

1 Con­vert your RAW to black & white

Open your RAW im­age into Pho­to­shop CC and it’ll au­to­mat­i­cally be opened into Adobe Cam­era Raw. Head over to the Ba­sic panel as this is where you can start to ap­ply your RAW con­ver­sion. Firstly, drag the Sat­u­ra­tion slider to -100 to make it mono. Now give the im­age some bite by set­ting Clar­ity to +35 and Con­trast to +25. Drag the Ex­po­sure slider un­til you’re happy with the over­all bright­ness and ad­just the High­lights, Shad­ows, Whites and Blacks to fine-tune the con­trast. Push­ing the Shad­ows and Whites up to +50 while pulling the High­lights and Blacks down is a good way to en­hance the con­trast even fur­ther.

2 Ap­ply a vin­tage sepia ton­ing ef­fect

You now need to head over to the Split Ton­ing panel. The idea in this panel is that you can as­sign one colour to the high­lights and another colour to the shad­ows. We’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to set both of these to the same part of the colour spec­trum, drag­ging the High­lights Hue to 35 and the Shad­ows Hue to 38. This will give the im­age a sepia tone, but to see the ef­fect you’ll need to in­crease the Sat­u­ra­tion slid­ers for both the High­lights and Shad­ows. We set­tled on a value of 30 for this shot, but you can exper­i­ment with other val­ues and fine-tune the Hue slid­ers on your images to get your de­sired ef­fect.

3 Add a vi­gnette and film grain

When you think of old film pho­tos you in­stantly en­vis­age a heavy vi­gnette and grainy tex­ture. These two traits are easy to repli­cate in ACR. To add a vi­gnette in the cor­ners head over to the Lens Cor­rec­tions panel and then click the Man­ual tab be­low. Here you’ll see a Vignetting slider which you can drag to the left to darken the cor­ners down or to the right to lighten them, as some old pho­tos have lighter cor­ners. We set­tled on a value of -90 to make the ef­fect more no­tice­able and you can also ad­just the Mid­point slider to change the area af­fected by your vi­gnette. To add some filmic grain you need to head over to the Ef­fects panel. Un­der the Grain head­ing you can change the Amount – push­ing this slider up will in­crease the amount of grain, the Size changes how large the grain specks are and Rough­ness changes how ap­par­ent the grain is.

4 Re­fine con­trast in the Ba­sic panel

Your retro treat­ment is nearly done. All you need to do now is head back over to the Ba­sic panel and re­fine the ex­po­sure and con­trast. Two slid­ers that we didn’t touch in Step 1 are Tem­per­a­ture and Tint, but they’re def­i­nitely worth ex­per­i­ment­ing with now. Usu­ally used to al­ter the white bal­ance of your im­age, these two slid­ers can be pushed much harder when you’ve drained your pic­ture of colour, and they have a huge im­pact on its over­all con­trast. You can also fine-tune the Con­trast, High­lights, Shad­ows, Whites, Blacks and Ex­po­sure slid­ers to achieve the right amount of punch for your shot. When you’re done, click Save Im­age in the bot­tom left cor­ner and save your shot as a Qual­ity 12 JPEG, or click Open Im­age to bring your pic­ture into Pho­to­shop CC and con­tinue to work it up fur­ther.

Left There’s some dy­namic move­ment in this im­age, as a slow shut­ter speed was used.Right The colour, grain and vi­gnette give this quaint street scene bags of retro charm.

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