Part 2: ‘Eurochrome’

Welcome to part 2 of an 8-part series on Lightroom presets and how they work. To go with this I’ve created 8 free Lightroom presets you can download right now.

  1. Click here for a Dropbox link.
  2. You don’t need to have a Dropbox account – just click the ‘Download’ button at the top right. Depending on your browser, the presets will download either as a folder, or as a zip file you have to unzip into a folder.
  3. Once you’ve done that, launch Lightroom, open an image in Develop mode and then right-click anywhere in the Presets panel and choose ‘New Folder’. Type in ‘Life after Photoshop’ and hit the ‘Create’ button.
  4. Now right-click on the new folder, select ‘Import’ and navigate to the folder where you’ve saved the downloaded presets. You can now select the presets, hit the ‘Import’ button and they’ll appear in the presets folder you’ve created.

How the ‘Eurochrome’ Lightroom preset works

‘Eurochrome’ is my name for a type of generic colour transparency film going around in the 1980s. I say ‘generic’, but mostly I’m thinking of Agfa CT18 and CT21, two emulsions which were hardly at the pinnacle of colour accuracy, resolution, grain control, exposure latitude or any other desirable quality I can think of. And yet they did have a characteristic ‘look’ which somehow sums up the cool, austere tones of many European cities. Here’s a before-and-after:

Free Lightroom preset Eurochrome

It actually took a fair amount of fiddling to get the preset looking just how I wanted it, so here’s a breakdown of the panel and adjustments used and how they contribute to the overall look.

Free Lightroom preset Eurochrome

Basic panel: There are a number of things going on here. First, I wanted to add a cooler overall tone, so I’ve reduced both the colour Temp and Tint sliders.

Next, I wanted to introduce the sooty black shadows characteristic of this type of transparency film, so the Blacks slider has been dragged all the way back to -50 (people get very precious about preserving shadow detail, but very often the overall look of the picture should be allowed to take precedence, I think). This adjustment on its own pushes the overall contrast too high, so that’s been wound back to -50 too.

Finally, in the Presence section the Clarity slider has been pushed up to give objects more ‘punch’, but the Saturation value has been reduced to try to recreated the subdued colours of the era.

Free Lightroom preset Eurochrome

HSL panel: The Basic panel adjustments on their own leave photos looking cool and contrasty, but one of the film characteristics I wanted to recapture was strong reds and oranges – in other words, I wanted to cool down the colours generally but intensify the warmer colours remaining. So this required some tweaks in the HSL panel and the Saturation section. Essentially, it meant pushing the Red, Orange and Yellow values up towards maximum and pulling back the Green, Aqua and Blue saturation values.

lightroom-eurochrome-preset-04

Effects panel: Of course, you can’t have a film effect without grain, so this means some tweaks in the Effects panel too. Moderate Grain Amount and Size values combined with a higher Roughness value gave the fine but easily visible grain I remember from Agfa transparency films, and a moderate vignette effect helps give the look of mass-market lenses of that era.

Adjusting the Eurochrome preset

As with the Densia preset from last time, every image is different and the preset won’t give perfect results each time. The main issues with this Eurochrome preset are likely to be the vignette, colour saturation and highlight rendition.

Free Lightroom preset Eurochrome

The vignette effect is pretty strong, and you may in some instances need to open the Effects panel and turn it down a little. I’ve left the saturation fairly high, and if it’s too much for your taste you can fix this by reducing it in the Basic panel. Finally, the preset holds on to bright skies and highlight details far better than the original Agfa films ever did, so if you want a truly authentic look, open the Basic panel and push the Highlights slider right up to its maximum. You lose the highlights but, in conjunction with the other modifications, it actually looks all right.

Next time: the ‘Mistical’ preset

Can you really create a mist or fog effect in Lightroom? Indeed you can. It’s not going to work perfectly every time, but it’s not bad, and it’s an indication of just what you can achieve in Lightroom with a little ingenuity.