Vintage style photos may look like they were taken on film cameras many years ago, but you don't need to work with film to achieve that look

The vintage look is popular now, and before you get started in Luminar it’s helpful to think about both subject matter and what the vintage look means to you. To me, the most important element is nostalgia. Vintage style photos may look like they were taken on film cameras many years ago. 

In the era of digital photography, achieving a vintage look in your photos is easy thanks to the various filters. Luminar has lots of them. Let’s take a look at some most useful for this style.

Cross-processing filter

When I was at the college I went through a stage of shooting photos on color slide film and processing them in chemistry intended for color negative film. This is called cross-processing and the result was a high contrast negative with unpredictable color casts.

Photography has moved on and now you can emulate the effect in Luminar in a much more controllable way using the Cross-processing filter. Just select the Type from the menu and use the amount slider to adjust the strength.

Dramatic filter

The dramatic filter is also useful for creating a vintage look. It helps you create a kind of gritty, desaturated look that’s ideal for portraits. Experiment with increasing Contrast and Local Contrast and reducing Saturation. Use the Amount slider to keep things subtle.

Orton Effect filter

The Orton Effect is another filter that has origins in film photography. Landscape photographer Michael Orton created a soft focus effect that worked by sandwiching two slides, one in focus and one out of focus, together in the same frame. Now you can recreate the look with the Orton Effect filter.

It’s easily overdone, so keep it subtle with a low Amount setting. It also helps if you increase Contrast and decrease Saturation to give your photo that vintage feel. The Orton Effect filter works well with portraits of women as the soft focus effect is very flattering.


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Split Toning filter

Another way to create the vintage look is to use a vintage lens. I made the portrait below using a Helios 58mm f2 lens – a Russian manual focus lens that is known for its swirly bokeh effect. Photos made with this lens are softer than those made with a sharp, modern lens.

Once you’ve created the photo you can complete the vintage look with your treatment in Luminar. The Split Toning filter is ideal for color grading effects. Try adding orange to the highlights and blue to the shadows. This works really well with portraits.

Curves filter

You can use curves to emulate the look of photos printed on matte paper. This type of paper doesn’t record a true black and the result is that shadows look gray rather than black. The technique works best with photos that have lots of dark tones. Select the RGB curve and create a curve like the one in this screenshot.

Do the same with the Blue curve instead of the RGB curve to add a blue color cast to the shadows. Feel free to experiment with the different color curves to see what effects and color cast you can create.

Multiple filters

So far we’ve just looked at single filters but of course, you can combine as many filters as you like. For example, here I used the Dramatic, Orton Effect and Curves filters to apply a vintage style to a portrait.

The vintage look is on trend and the photos in this article are just a taster of what you can do in Luminar. They may have color casts, faded colors or faded blacks. Experiment with the other filters to see what effects you can create.