Muted and Pastel Greens


I still remember loving how my images looked when I shot with Kodak Portra 400 film. Soft, muted greens, creamy skin tones, and an even tonal feel to the picture. Today, digital cameras render colors so saturated and vivid that photography has lost some of that beauty it once possessed.

In my video tutorial today, I teach you how to easily recreate this look to get that beautiful and soft feel to your images.


Lowering the Dynamic Range

This first thing to do is to decrease the dynamic range of the image. Digital camera sensors do a fantastic job of trying to find a white point and a black point in every image.

This is great, except it is not true to the film look. If this is the look you are after, then we must first flatten the tonal range of the image a bit.


The Highlights and Shadows Sliders 

This is done by lowering the highlights slider and raising the shadows slider. These two sliders deal completely with detail in your image; the highlights slider with details in the highlights, and the shadows slider with the details in the shadows.

Adjusting these sliders will give us more detail, but remove some of the bright spots and dark spots in the image.



The Whites and Blacks Sliders

Next, we want to use the whites and blacks sliders to remove a true white point and a true black point.  This is down by moving the white sliders down, and the blacks slider up.


As you do this, you will notice the tonal mountains of the histogram moving away from the sides, more to the center.  This flattens the image yielding a much smaller dynamic range, and in turn, a more film-like image. 

The HSL Panel

Now that the image is tonally-flat, it is time to mute the colors a bit. In this video, we will work with the green tones mostly, as these images have been shot in nature, a predominately green location!

So, learning how to mute the greens is going to be the most beneficial to you.


The Hue Tab

Start by going to the Hue tab in the HSL panel and sliding the green slider to the right. In the hue panel, you are effectively changing the color of a color, and we want to change the color of how green is rendered in the image.

We do this by sliding the green slider to the right.  

The Luminance Tab

The luminance tab, in the HSL panel, deals with the brightness of each color.  Because we are working with the greens of the image, let’s bump the brightness of the greens up, so we will move the slider to the right.  

This will give the greens a more airy look and help our image to have a bright, airy feel.


Season to taste…

Finally, we will move back to the basic panel and add some contrast, take down the bright colors a bit by dropping vibrance a touch, adding contrast by moving the contrast slider to the right and adjusting the brightness by moving the exposure slider according to taste.  


That really is all there is to it! You may have seen videos previously that dive into the tone curve to get that film look, and yes, you can do that too.  But the sliders control just as much as the tone curve does and are much easier to use and explain, so I felt it best to teach you this way.

I love that clean, fresh look, and if you do too, these tips can be a powerful way for you to get that look in your images.

I also offer the Fresh Air Presets, which were created specifically to achieve this look quickly and easily.  You can check those out and even receive a 10% discount by looking at the show notes on YouTube.  While you are over there, please subscribe!  Hitting the subscribe button allows others to find my videos easier, so please make sure to do it!

The before and after

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