I have always seen advertisements / pictures with colour based such as this...

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a bit yellowish / retro feeling....

How can I achieve such a picture? Is it a "camera setting" or do I have to do it in post-processing with photoshop cs / elements?

Are they any videos on Youtube to show me the way?

Is there a term of this type of pictures?

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me that this is highly photoshoped. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2011 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Photoshopdisasters.com would call it "awesome". Is that model a vampire? Nah, couldn't be, she woulda burst into flames in that sunset. \$\endgroup\$
    – cabbey
    Feb 17, 2011 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm guessing there's some HDR going on with this shot, the shadows just aren't shaded quite enough... Could be some external lights as well. There's definitely something not quite right about this shot... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2011 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pearsonartphoto I really don't think the car or model were at the dock for the sunset shoot. I think it's at least three layers. \$\endgroup\$
    – cabbey
    Feb 17, 2011 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ The car is CG, the model was probably shot in a studio, thankfully it's just the colours you want to emulate as the whole thing looks awful to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Feb 17, 2011 at 17:28

5 Answers 5


I think there are many ways to achieve this feeling...if I were to tackle it I'd do something like this.

Aside from the technical aspect of setting the scene I would shoot RAW with color balance somewhere in the range of florescent. I would then use a selective color treatment in photoshop to fine tune my colors.

I agree with Phillippe Lavoie on the "highly photoshoped" comment though. It looks like the car has been swapped out with the new image being heavily saturated. The original photo was probably shot with film, and a yellow or magenta filter was used, and maybe had a Volkswagen Beetle in it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well said, I will add that the "on car" shadows are wrong. They seems generated, like a 3d model. Zoom in and you see the contact of the tires and the ground is wrong. The edge between the mirror and the rocks too. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2011 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I may sound noob a bit by saying that, but the Sunset preset (in Guide, Nikon D5000) gives me this kind of colors. It's pretty easy and you don't require a lot of modification. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2011 at 16:59

There are several presets for this type of effect, they're all basically trying to do the same thing: simulate an old print where the paper base under the silver has yellowed with age, so all the colors have shifted a bit higher in the yellows; and the dyes fading at different rates as Stan pointed out. "Old Polar" in Lightroom comes to mind, though clearly not applied full force. Though you can tell it wasn't applied uniformly to the layers.... Look at the sign and the boat... both have a very "warm" white, though I doubt either of them are naturally that warm. The car however, still has a bright crisp, almost cool white (around the headlights).

Avoiding the pre-sets, you could probably accompilsh this by just warming up the color temperature a slight bit in your white balance. Not too much, just a little bit... maybe 100 degrees or so. To simulate the dyes fading you could use LR's color saturation adjustment sliders to pull the magentas down a bit (actually probably desat the whole thing just a little, then the magenta a little more.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not just yellowing paper that's being simulated -- magenta dyes are (or at least historically were -- colour technology has improved as much as eveything else) more fugitive than either cyan or yellow. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Feb 17, 2011 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ good point @Stan, updated. \$\endgroup\$
    – cabbey
    Feb 17, 2011 at 20:49

I'd try this: Curves adjustment layer. Increase the contrast (steeper curve) in the red layer. Decrease the contrast in the green. Maybe leave the blue linear. Play with it from there... Or, maybe just mess with warming things up (especially highlights) in the color balance dialog.

I guess you might be able to get something by messing with in-camera white balance, but it would be less controllable, much easier in post.

Oh, and I agree, that picture has been seriously manipulated. I wouldn't be surprised if it were some sort of montage. I especially like how the woman has no shadow.


Just to add a bit that I haven't seen anybody else mention directly: the lighting on the car (whether CG or real) is from the top, left, slightly in front of the car (i.e., closer to us than the car itself).

Note, for example, that the hood of the car shows a highlight on the left side, the front-bumper is highlighted where it's nearly horizontal, and the near fender is brighter where it faces closer to forward (which would be in the darkest shadow if its light was from the sunset behind the car).

I'd agree that it looks like the car is probably computer generated though -- the curves on the top of the hood (for a particularly blatant example) have what looks to me distinctly like Gouraud shading (complete with slight color banding from the looks of things). Making something look like real paint on real metal is fairly difficult. Like lots of computer shading, this looks more like some sort of rubber or plastic. Note, for example, the complete lack of anything resembling a specular highlight anywhere on the car.


I think what he is trying to say is simply just: how to achieve the "background" colour - ie be able to make those 1970s Retro look type of pictures...

In layman terms - step by step - eg through youtube videos.

Lastly, is there at theme to call these "1970s retro look" yellowish type of photographs.


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