A photo of a couple outdoors with retro and grainy effect

Old School HDR is a free Lightroom preset that gives images an old and grainy film look. It is the ideal preset to use on photos that call for a timeless aesthetic. If you want the classic matte look and feel, Old School HDR is the preset to go for.

This gritty filter is ideal for outdoor photography, like portraits, architectures, landscapes, and travel. It works best on pictures taken under sufficient and diffused lighting, like the old films that this preset simulates.

With the Old School HDR preset, you can easily give your digital photos a classic film flair. You can have this look on any image, including your day-to-day Instagram posts.

Amplifies Light and Colors

A brightened outdoor portrait of a woman wearing a rimmed hat

Brightening. Old School HDR preset gives more light to images by increasing the exposure. It also amplifies contrast to emphasize some tones. You can examine the effects in the After photo above: it looks sunnier now, and there is a broader contrast between tones.

These fundamental settings allow for finer adjustments in tone and texture. You will see more of this in the examples that follow.

Softens Saturation and Increases Luminance

A church bell tower with lightened colors

Softened Hues. Most colors taken by film cameras are slightly undersaturated compared to the vivid hues of modern digital photography. It is regarded these days as a stylistic aesthetic because of its distinct appeal and nostalgic charm.

To recreate this retro look, the preset decreases the saturation of all colors. It, however, makes yellow, green, and aqua hues pop by boosting their luminance. For a stronger matte look, Old School HDR also softens warm and mid-tones.

This combination of settings is optimized for outdoor photography; the more luminous yellow and green emphasize nature. You can observe this effect in the After photo above. The vines look more vivid now, along with the leaves peeking through the picture's bottom corner.

Gives a Bright yet Crisp Look

An architectural facade with softened white tones

Mattified Light Tones. The preset's handling of light and dark tones adds to the perceptible matte texture. It fully mutes highlights and whites in the above architectural photo, for example. You can see this on its softened, almost ivory, facade.

Notice how the shadows are also subdued, especially in the rows of ornate columns.

Mutes Shadows and Dark Tones

An outdoor portrait of a woman in a muted black shirt

Lighter Blacks. Old School HDR preset does not have deep blacks nor harsh shadows. This, like most analog films, make it ideal for portraits and scenes with diffused lighting.

To generate this look, the preset fully lightens shadows and blacks, as you can notice in the photo above. It is most noticeable on the woman's face; this helps reveal more of her features and subtle expression.

This mix of tweaks in color and texture invariably produces a grungy motif. You may choose to make the most of it on urban scenes and other richly textured compositions.


Old School HDR is for Lightroom Mobile, Desktop and...

LikeĀ all our presets, you can absolutely use Old School HDR as is, right out of the box. With any preset you might need to make adjustments to accommodate your specific camera, settings, lighting and subject matter.

  • Entirely Adjustable
  • Compatible with Lightroom 4, 5, 6 and CC
  • Performs with both PC, Mac and Mobile
  • Applicable to both RAW and JPG images
  • 100% Free


This Free Lightroom Preset was last updated on January 24, 2020


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