Creating a Vintage Film Look for Digital Photos

August 21, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Creating a Vintage Film Look for Digital Photos  Using Adobe Lightroom and Dehancer Plugin

In today's article, we'll explore a creative technique to transform your digital images into the nostalgic charm of vintage or analog film. By utilizing Adobe Lightroom and a plugin called "Dehancer," we can achieve that classic film aesthetic that many photographers and enthusiasts love. While it might seem ironic to recreate a film look from a digital image, the allure of vintage appeal and subtle color nuances is undeniable.

Why Pursue the Vintage Film Look?

Embracing the vintage film aesthetic can be a nostalgic journey for photographers who appreciate the beauty of analog photography. The desire to reintroduce the grainy texture and unique color subtleties that digital images sometimes lack can be achieved through this technique. Plus, it's a cost-effective alternative to using actual film cameras and associated materials.

Getting Started

To begin, download and install the  "Dehancer" plugin. Detailed instructions can be found on their website click here. Ensure you choose a 16-color profile and that it is sRGB. You should also set your TIFF files to 300 DPI for optimal printing quality.  You can try the plugin for free for thirty days.  If you decide to go ahead and purchase make sure you use the discount code NIFTYFIFTY to get 10% off your purchase.

Note: This guide is based on personal experience with the free trial version and is not sponsored.

Developing the Image in Lightroom

Open your raw photo in Lightroom's Develop module.  This is how Dehancer suggest you edit your photo to get the best results
Adjust the exposure to -1, contrast to -40, and blacks to +60.
Disable sharpening and enable profile corrections.

Transitioning to The Dehancer Plugin

From the Photo menu, choose "Edit in Dehancer." Set the file format to TIFF and select a 16-bit component color space. Upon entering the plugin, adjust the screen size as needed.



The Development Process

Begin by fine-tuning the exposure.
Experiment with sliders to adjust warmth, tint, and color balance. Choose a film profile and adjust the push and pull settings. If you are familiar with working in a darkroom you will have heard of  the terms "push and "pull" from but if you are new to film development then:  "Push" means the shot was underexposed and over developed, i.e. you compensate for the under exposure in the development, and "Pull" is the opposite



Configure the expand settings by adjusting black and white points. and then select a preferred paper type in the print options. Fine-tune tonal contrast and color density. if you wish you can engage the analog range limiter to refine the effect subtly. Then just go back and review the black and white points to make sure you are happy with those.

Simulating the Enlarger

Experiment with color filtration to customize the vintage feel. This is the the same as adjusting the color filters on the enlarger's print head.  Adjust the filters for yellow-blue, magenta-green, and cyan-red balance. Introduce additional effects like halation and bloom if desired.  Just a word of explanation about those.  Halation is the reflection of bright points of light off the film base and pressure plate causing a “glow” in the strong highlights on some images. Bright areas of an image appear to softly bleed around the edges of dark areas and is most evident when you have some strong lights in the photograph and you see reddish orange haloes on the contrasting boundaries of over exposed areas. The Bloom effect is caused by imperfections in optical design. It is most evident in old lenses with poorly coated glass. Inside these lenses, parasitic illumination occurs and then is scattered further in the film emulsion layers. As a result, a diffuse glow appears around light sources, bright areas of the scene and along high-contrast edges. You might find both of these useful if you are working with portraits as they can often enhance skin tones and colours.

 Saving and Applying Presets

Save your adjustments and return to Lightroom. The preset will be saved for future edits using the same technique so you can apply your unique preset to other images to streamline your workflow.


Comparing the Results

Upon applying Dehancer's effects, compare the transformed image with the original to appreciate the vintage film-inspired changes. The softened look, subtle color shifts, and grainy texture can evoke the charm of analog photography.

 

Edited with Dehancer

Edited in Lightroom only

Conclusion

Creating a vintage film look from digital images can be an exciting endeavor for photographers seeking to capture the timeless aesthetics of film. The Dehancer plugin, combined with Adobe Lightroom, empowers you to control various aspects of the transformation, from color balance to grain intensity. Whether you're a film enthusiast or simply curious about the vintage vibe, this technique offers an engaging creative avenue worth exploring.

 

Don't forget the discount code NIFTFIFTY if you want to buy any of the Dehancer Plugins- click here to go to their website

 


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