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I love the look that the below photos taken on Instax cameras have. The one with the giant teacups is my favorite — I like that the shadows seem pronounced and faded at the same time, like echoes, and there's a lot of light and vivid color.

In the second, I generally like the same things, although the lighting seems to be softer and the colors are different.

I'd like to know how to get either (preferably both) effects, using Lightroom or Photoshop. Finding presets or actions that have this particular effect on them has been surprisingly difficult.

Do you have any suggestions of places to look? Or do you have suggestions on edits to make on my own in these two categories:

  • basic panel, tone curve, contrast
  • any color settings that might be relevant, like split toning, color curves, selective saturation or desaturation

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The look you are desiring is as much about the light being shot and the exposure levels chosen as it is about the film itself. Instax seems to be fairly low contrast, less saturated, and slightly cooler in temperature than what most digital cameras output by default. But if you look for photos tagged with "Instax" on flickr, you quickly see the wide variety of looks that are possible with this instant film.

Exposing/developing to the right in bright light and reducing contrast and saturation should get you close. Select a daylight white balance and fine tune a little towards blue on the blue<-->amber axis and a little towards green on the magenta<-->green axis.

  • Thanks so much Michael! Here are two more examples of the type of Instax look I like: flickr.com/photos/livia_vi/19380752139 and flickr.com/photos/77894959@N03/14492024919 – do you still recommend what you suggested? Would I do anything with other basic sliders, like highlights, shadows, blacks, clarity, vibrance? – Lulagirl Jan 29 '16 at 3:01
  • Not sure about the second one, but the first one was not taken using Instax film - it is a picture of the film in a box that was taken with a Canon 6D. – Michael C Jan 29 '16 at 5:29
  • I would suggest doing more along the lines of shooting in the same type of light. There's only so much you can do in post to emulate a look that is so highly dependent upon the way the scene is lit. – Michael C Jan 29 '16 at 5:44
  • OK – so that would be bumping up the exposure when shooting? Or something/a combination of things else? Thanks again for your insight. – Lulagirl Jan 29 '16 at 23:04
  • Look, it's not so much about the post processing (because with instant film there isn't any post-processing). It's not as much about the exposure settings (although obviously exposure needs to be correct). It's about the quality of the light that is illuminating the scene. It all starts with the light. You can expose a certain way and post process a certain way all you want to, but the light has to be there at the beginning of the process. That's not to say you can't use post processing tools to make a scene look very different than what you start with. But the light has to be in there. – Michael C Jan 30 '16 at 23:42

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