How to I edit a photo to have a old vintage look? I'm looking to achieve this sorta of vintage film like look. I'm looking for a way to achieve this without purchasing a "auto" effect program by using just the basic controls. It seems like desaturation is a start but there's more to it?

My basic editing program of choice is Aperture (but I assume Lightroom or anything else out there all have the same basic set of controls).

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2 Answers 2


You will need to introduce noise, selectively desaturate come colors, decrease contrast, lighten the black point and possibly selectively shift hues on some colors. Reducing the color depth may also help achieve a vintage look.

In general, the "vintage" look comes from the fact that older films lacked the sensitivity and color accuracy of more modern films and digital sensors. If you want something really accurate to vintage looks, researching the specific color characteristics of a particular film and paper/development process combination would be the best way to apply a similar transformation to a high quality original.

As an example, in the image you presented, blue maintains normal saturation while most other colors are desaturated pretty heavily. Black is also a medium grey with a purple tint. Green is particularly desaturated.

Also, it is worth pointing out that a good way to figure out what needs to be done with a particular photo is to try figuring out how to make it look more current and then reverse the process, though you will never get an old photo to look current without making up some information normally because of the fact that information is lost in the low quality original.


To give you a summary of this link, you'll be needing the following:

  1. Curves Image Adjustment - the curves tool can take input tones and selectively stretch or compress them. Using this tool can add emphasis to shadows and high lights. Take note that old Pictures are not vivid, so use this tool to adjust it.
  2. Add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer - we use this tool to manipulate colors.
  3. Reduce the opacity of the gradient map - Since The gradient map is a separate layer, you can play around its adjustment depending on your preferences.
  4. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer
  5. Add a Gradient Overlay Layer
  6. Optional: Change the gradient Map

Vintage effect usually applies three things: Exposure-The blacks and whites, Colors-Saturated or Desaturated and Textures


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