Baja Revisited - Post processing for a vintage look

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...

One of the amazing aspects of modern photography is the range of creative possibilities that digital post processing offers. We have the entire history of photography to pull inspiration from. Daguerreotype to Polaroid, Kodachrome to HDR.

With this series of photos from Baja Mexico, I'm drawing on old album covers, dusty basement collections of National Geographic, antique shop photographs, 1980's Robby Müller movies. A haze of nostalgia to mask the cinical clarity of an unprocessed digital image.


The first experiment was to restrict myself to a square 1:1 crop ratio. The photos were not taken with a square crop in mind, so it took a bit of work to find photos that worked well with this ratio.

I use Lightroom 3  to process all my images, and here I used a mix of the basic exposure tools, the tone curve, split toning, and the effects panel to achieve the vintage look.

I used quite a bit of fill light and much less contrast than usual to give a faded appearance, and adjusted the colour temperature towards yellow for a warm tone.
The tone curve was used to gently bring back a bit of the lost contrast, and the split toning was used to bring a coloured tone to the shadows - another characteristic copied from the imperfection of vintage photos.



The surprisingly good film grain filter built-in to Lightroom takes the edge off the digital clarity and adds to the old look at stronger settings. 

After the photos were exported from Lightroom, I used Photoshop to apply a black frame from the Flickr Noise and dust through the viewfinder pool with a multiply layer.

I recommend John Arnold's excellent Photo Walkthrough website for tutorials on the finer details of Lightroom and Photoshop.

You can find the full gallery with larger images here






1 Response to "Baja Revisited - Post processing for a vintage look"

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