How to Edit a Vintage Film Style in Photoshop

The days of film may be over (mostly), but that doesn’t mean you have to forego some of the beautiful, iconic looks film photography has to offer. Adding a “dark film” look to your photos is both easy and fun. And in this tutorial by Aaron Nace, you’ll also learn a lot about using Photoshop’s Levels adjustment, as well:

Most photographers use the Levels adjustment in Photoshop to adjust the brightness, contrast, and tonal range in an image. What many don’t know, however, is that it can be used to make some very creative images. Not only can you change the white and black points to make the darks darker and the whites whiter, you can also “adjust how dark ‘black’ is in an image and how light ‘white’ is.” This may erase some detail, but when used wisely can make for some interesting effects.

The Levels adjustment can also be used to add color to both your foreground and your background. Here Nace uses it to put some reds and blues into the shadows and to add some red into the sky (using a layer mask).

Changing colors using levels

After completing the Levels adjustments, Nace then completes his dark film look by adding a touch of blur and a bit of noise to mimic the output of an older, somewhat less-expensive film lens.

adding a dark film look to your photo

The end result? A beautifully colored, surrealistic version of the original.

Which one do you like better?

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

Leave a Comment

Personalize your comment with an avatar from!

Prove Your Humanity * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever