Vintage Effect: Bring Mood To Your Photos

Since it appeares that you really like the article Backlight Portraits: Edit Them Easily which I wrote last week I´ve decide to write another article about portrait editing. This time I´ll show you how to add vintage mood to your photos easily with using the quite same techniques as were used in the previous article.

Before & After
Bellow you can see the original photo and the result you´ll try to achieve.

As you can see the original picture is boring snapshot with very low contrast between lights and shadows. The result has much more contrast not only between lights and shadows but also between used colors.
Before & After Examples

The effect was achieved thanks to luminosity selection (same as in above mentioned article) and Curves adjustment layer.

Technical Info
  • Camera Used: Canon EOS 1000D
  • Lens: 50mm f1.8 (definitely my favorite lens)
  • Apperture: 1.8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/160
  • ISO: 200
  • Natural light from window
Source File
Bellow you can download unedited photo so you can learn the effect on exactly same picture.
Source Photo
Time To Bring It To Photoshop
Open the photo in Photoshop and sharpen it the same way as I mentioned in the article Backlight Portraits: Edit Them Easily and then soften the skin also using the High Pass.

Lets add more contrast...
Before color adjustment I always make better contrast with Gradient Map. Adjusting contrast this way always look very decent and realistic.

To do that add new adjustment layer Gradient Map on the top of all layers. Select Black, White Gradient and pull the white slider bit to the left to lighten the highlights little bit.

Then change the Blending Mode of this layer on Luminosity. Lets take a look how the image has changed.
Without (left) and with (right) Gradient Map adjustment layer
Quite big change after only one adjustment isn´t it?

Play With Highlights
Click on the Background layer and press Alt+Ctrl+2 to activate luminosity mask.
Now with the mask activated add new adjustment layer Levels and set the Input Levels on 9; 3,15; 175. Place this adjustment layer on the top of the layers.

Click on the Background layer and load the luminosity selection once again. Now add Color Balance adjustment layer and set it as it´s shown bellow.
Color Balance
This setting adds nice warm tones to highlights. Bellow you can see how the photo looks after highlights adjusting.
After highlights adjustment
Lets Change Shadows
Highlights look quite good (even if they´re bit lighter) so let´s move on shadows.
Make the luminosity selection again but this time invert the selection - go to Menu > Selection > Invert. Thanks to it your shadows will be selected not the highlights.

Add new adjustment layer Curves bellow the adjustment layer Levels from previous step (you may see picture of layers order in the bottom part of the article) and set it similar to what is show bellow.
Curves Adjustment Layer
Make the luminosity selection and invert it once again. Then add new adjustment layer Levels above the adjustment layer Curves and set the Input Levels on 0; 0,63; 255.

That´s all. Isn´t it easy?

Layers Order
There is picture of my layers. I´m adding it because I´m not sure if I write it clear during the tutorial.
Layer Order
Get More Vintage
Do you want more vintage resources? Actions to make your post processing easier? Then take a look at following actions!

Vintage Action #1

Vintage Action #2
In this tutorial you used following techniques and tools:
  • Luminosity Selection 
  • Adding contrast by Gradient Maps
  • Adjusting colors with Color Balance and Curves
  • Change lights and shadows with Levels
Hope that the tutorial was useful for you. Do you have any tips for next tutorial?  Or should I mention something more in this one?
It would be great if you write your opinion in comments!