How to Work with Forgotten Postcards: Creating Light Leaks in Lightroom

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  By Pia Lopez
How to Work with Forgotten Postcards: Creating Light Leaks in Lightroom

Welcome back!

Today we have a short tutorial on creating light leaks, using our “Forgotten Postcards” workflow.

In the old days of film cameras, sometimes you would have an issue with light leak where for one reason or another light would get in and expose the film when it wasn’t supposed to, but that can sometimes make a really neat effect. Since modern digital cameras don’t really have light leaks, so we are going to show you how to add them to your digital photos, using the “Forgotten Postcards” workflow.

With my photograph pulled up, we will get started by going into our “Forgotten Postcards” presets and applying Color Correct – Reduce Greens, which will help us with that washed out, desaturated vintage look.

Scrolling down we will find 15 light leaks preset to choose from, which recreate effects that would be seen with an old camera that would have had a light leak.

For this photograph We are going to use Light Leak 13, which adds a nice golden hue. However, for me, there is a little too much yellow. We can fix that by going over to the panel and making adjustments like turning the Saturation down, or you could do it by applying another preset, which is the way we will do it now.

So, going back over to the presets, we’ll apply the Tone/Tint – Less Saturation preset. Once applied, it toned down the gold color a bit.

The next thing that we’ll do is add a vignette. We will go with Subtle Black.

The effects that we have made to this photograph are pretty subtle with more muted tones. It does have some vintage attributes, but very subtly.

Let’s go to our next photograph now. With this photo we are going to use a more traditional light leak effect, but first we will start by applying a Matte preset. For this we will use Vintage – Matte Watermelon.

Then, we will go to the Light Leak presets and select Light Leak 3, which gives us the light leak effect all around the edges.

Once applied, I’m going to adjust this a little and change the colors through the panel. The color that I want to tone down is the red one, so I will click on that and turn the Saturation down just a bit, then actually change the red to more of an orange tone.

Now we want to bring a little more light to the subject, so for that we will open up our “Forgotten Postcards” brushes and scroll down to the Light – Brighten brush. Turning up the Exposure a little, we will run this brush over the little girl, who is the subject in this photograph.

Looking at our after effect, we didn’t really change too much. We did give the photo an analog feel with that light leak effect. We have also added a really rich tone to it as well.

Let’s move along to our third photograph.

We will start this one with one of our “Forgotten Postcards” Nostalgic Effect presets, using Vintage 10, which will give the photo a muted sepia tone and wash the color out.

Next we will apply Light Leak 13, which adds a reddish tone. This isn’t exactly what we were going for, so we’ll click the filter button and adjust it by moving the effect back and rotating it a little. Also, we will change the color by moving it down to a lighter tone.

Now that we have that the way we want it, let’s go ahead and apply a vignette to give it more of an antique feel. Scrolling down through our “Forgotten Postcards” presets we are going to apply Vignette – Subtle Black.

That was a really quick edit, but we made quite a difference to this photograph. The effects that you’ll get from the Light Leaks aren’t necessarily realistic effects, but you will the aesthetic that you may be looking for in that old fashioned, vintage look. In certain situations, that may be exactly what you are looking for.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. Try our “Forgotten Postcards” workflow for yourself and see what you can create!

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Pia Lopez

Pia Lopez is a self-taught photographer, graphic designer and ArchViz artist. As Content Director of, her work is driven by her two biggest passions: technology and art.

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