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How to create vintage film style from a night photo

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Black and white photos offer a nice dramatic mood

Most of us love the look of film noir. Bold shadows, film grain and contrast adds mystery and drama. However, photographers often forget they can apply this unique look to night photos.

LuminarAI and the upcoming Luminar Neo can create this look easily in seconds by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence. Having a little knowledge of lighting while doing night photography helps too. Let’s have a look at creating a vintage film style from a night photo.

Four steps to film noir drama

1. Speed up editing by using a template

Go to the Templates tab, click on the Cinematic Collection and select Film Noir. Adjust the slider on the lower right to the desired effect.

2. Personalize the template

Now go the Edit tab on top. You’ll notice that all editing functions that the template has applied will have small circles next to them. Cool!

But don’t forget that you can tweak anything you want to taste.

3. Apply film grain to your tastes

If you wish to adjust the amount of film grain, go to the Creative tools and select Film Grain. Adjust the slider to the desired effect.

You may also control the size and roughness if you wish. The key is with adding film grain is subtlety. Add enough that it creates a realistic texture without distracting from the image.

4. Drawing focus to your subject

Vignetting can “cradle” the subject, framing it. This redirects the viewer’s attention toward the subject. I add vignetting to many of my photos for this very reason.

In the Essentials tools, select Vignette. Adjust the slider on the lower right to the desired amount and adjust the size. You may even determine the focal point if you wish. Within Advanced Settings, you may play around with the various settings even more. Subtlety here is key as well.

While AI offers a huge assist, it’s still you that are at the helm. With these sliders and controls, it’s easy to create a vintage film style in seconds.


There are many other options to tweak. Feel free to play around with the contrast and other areas to easily tweak anything to your liking in seconds.

Happy with the result? Then we’re done!  Click on the Export icon to save your file. You may save it to disk, email or even upload it to Smugmug or elsewhere.

Bonus tip

The Soulful template in the Monochrome Collection also offers a beautiful black and white look with a lot of contrast. Also, don’t be afraid to look at templates that may not be the genre of photography you are doing. There are many black and white and vintage film templates in other areas.

Create more, with Luminar Neo

Fulfill your creative ideas with Luminar Neo! Preorder now and get the Photofocus preorder bundle, full of extras like a deep dive training video, templates, LUTs, textures and more when Luminar Neo launches.

Ken Lee

Ken Lee

I am a night photographer. I drive long hours in a dusty car listening to weird music, stay out all night creating photos, get dirty, hang out with other creative sleep-deprived weirdos, see the stars drift across the sky and always find the best taco stands while photographing forgotten abandoned locales and amazing nightscapes. I have one book published with two more on the way, and my images have appeared in National Geographic Books, Omni magazine, Los Angeles Times, Westways magazine and numerous other publications.

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