Not long before the advent of digital came the beginning of Instagram and the love of everything vintage. While aged photos offer a distinct look, they can take quite a bit of editing to get that way–but hold on, some vintage looks can be captured directly on a digital DSLR, no Photoshop needed. With a bit of knowledge and pre-tweaking, you can capture vintage-looking photos without any editing at all. Here’s five easy techniques that will blow Instagram cell phone images out of the water.
Pair a digital camera with an old film camera
In The Bokeh Forest By 55Laney69
Probably one of the most popular Instagram effects is to make digital images look aged. But the best way to do that? Use an actual old camera. But you don’t have to deal with film to use an antique camera. Through the viewfinder photography is a technique that uses both a film camera and a digital camera.
Through the viewfinder photography is pretty straightforward: Use the viewfinder of the old camera as a “filter” for the digital camera. Line up the cameras so that you are shooting with the digital camera through the viewfinder of the old camera. Vintage cameras with large viewfinders, like the big waist-level viewfinders on a twin reflex camera, usually work best, but different types of cameras will get you a different effect. (Still confused? Photojojo has an excellent tutorial here.)
Convert to Black & White directly on the camera
Black and White Flower Pattern by Vinoth Chandar
Most DSLRs and even point-and-shoots allow you to convert images to black and white and sometimes even sepia directly on the camera. This is usually done in two ways, adjusting the color before you shoot, or using in camera editing to adjust the shot.
To shoot in black and white with no conversions, locate the camera’s color settings in the menu. There’s often several options, like making the colors more vivid. Select the monochrome option and now all your images will be black and white. If you’re not looking for a black and white, you can still create an aged look by adjusting the color settings this way. Use a muted color setting and turn up the reds for that 70s look (Instagram’s 1977 filter), or try adding in more yellow.
If you don’t realize you want a shot in black and white until after you’ve taken it, many cameras will allow you to convert the image without software. Find the image on the LCD screen and access the editing menu, often just by hitting the menu button, but different camera models differ.
Transform a DSLR into a pinhole camera
Trafalar Street Station Underpass by Domonic Alves
Another way to get that dreamy, old film effect (outside of actually using film of course, like the image above), is to create a pinhole cap for your DSLR. To do this, you’ll have to sacrifice a body cap, but it’s well worth it in the end.
In an in-depth tutorial, Digital Camera World suggests drilling a hole into the DSLR’s body cap. Then, cover the hole with a piece of black material. Finally, make the actual pinhole using a large needle through the black material. Without the lens attached, DSLRs will only let you shoot in manual mode. Experiment with different shutter speeds to get the effect you want. Pin hole cameras need long shutter speeds, so make sure you have a tripod handy to get the most out of this effect.
Use the “wrong” white balance
Image by Michael Angel
Many aged images have a warm glow to them–or a golden hue. You can nail that golden look as you shoot, without any post-processing, and it’s actually quite simple. You can create a warm effect in several ways, one is by using the “wrong” white balance. Depending on what type of lighting you are shooting in, one of the camera’s preset white balances will give the images a warm glow.
If the presets aren’t quite exact, a golden glow can be achieved using the preset manual white balance and a warm card. A warm card is used just like a white balance card, only it creates that warm glow instead of a perfect white balance. Follow your camera’s manual for the specific instructions for achieving this–it’s usually as simple as taking a picture of the warm card, then selecting that image under the white balance options in the menu.
Create a double exposure
The iconic double-exposure didn’t fall to the wayside with digital. In fact, most digital cameras allow you to take a double exposure directly on the camera, no Photoshop needed. The exact steps vary by what type of camera you are using (and not all models offer this feature. Professional Photographer Sara Bryne shares the process with a Canon DSLR (and some tips for double exposure that apply to any camera) here: