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Create an Authentic Vintage Look Using Split Toning in Lightroom

Create an Authentic Vintage Look Using Split Toning in Lightroom

Watch This Video Tutorial

Nearly every photo can benefit from a bit of post-processing. Even if you strive to capture the perfect image in-camera, some basic brightness and color adjustments are often necessary. Lightroom also provides plenty of options for artistic customization when you're looking for something a little different.

This tutorial will show you how to create an authentic vintage look that can be used to add character and interest to certain photos.

Original Image

There's no shortage of interesting subjects to photograph, and there are nearly infinite ways to process any given image.

This photo features a rusty cast iron skillet hanging on the outside of an old wooden cabin. The image looks pretty cool as-is, but I want to make it more grungy, grimy, and antique.

Step 1

The original image is a bit too warm, so first I'll decrease the White Balance Temperature from 4050 to 3500.

Step 2

Next, I want to darken the image so it isn't so "happy" and bright. I'll take the Exposure down from 0 to -0.65.

Step 3

Too add some contrast and give the image a grungy look, I'll increase the Clarity to +80.

Then, I'll decrease the Vibrance to -20 to take some color out of the photo.

Already, it's looking a lot more "authentic" and old.

Step 4

Old images typically have less contrast than new ones, so I decreased the Highlights to -60, and increased the Shadows to +70 to give it a slightly flatter look.

Step 5

To reintroduce some contrast, I'll increase the Whites to +30, and bring the Blacks down to -20.

This might seem counterintuitive in relation to the previous step, but the Highlights slider affects a slightly different range of tones than the Whites slider, and the same goes with the Shadows and Blacks sliders.

Step 6

This is the step where artistic customization comes into effect.

In the Split Toning panel, I'll give the image a tradional "vintage" color tone.

Under Highlights, I set the Hue to 45 (an orangeish brown), and the Saturation to 35. This shifts any of the brighter colors in the image towards the color I selected with the Hue slider.

Under Shadows, I set the Hue to 220 (a purpleish blue), and the Saturation to 25. This shifts any of the darker colors in the image towards the color I selected with the Hue slider.

The overall effect is that the image has a lot more orange/brown and blue/purple than any other colors.

Step 7

Most old lenses has severe vignetting, so to replicate this effect, and focus the attention on the skillet, I'll go into the Effects panel and set the Amount to -30 to create a basic vignette.

I'll set the Midpoint to 65 so the vignette affects only the outer parts of the image.

Step 8

Lastly, to really focus the viewer on the skillet, I'll use the Graduated Filter tool, and drag it from left to right, starting well within the left edge of the image, and stopping just before the skillet.

I'll set the exposure to -0.50 to darken the left side of the photo.

Before and After

The original image isn't necessarily bad, but it lacks a lot of character that we created throughout this tutorial.

Final Image

Click the image below to view it at full size.

What do you think? Were you able to apply some of these tips to your own images? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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