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How’d They Do That? VSCOCam Photoshop Tutorial


Photoshop Tutorial: Visual Supply Company Effect

Smart Phone photography is the big thing these days and Instagram is the social sharing site of the mobile photographer’s choice. It comes chopped full of filters to give texture and pop to your images. Then there are oodles of other apps to choose from for customizing your looks. One of the popular favs is VDCCam.

When you want to get a similar look for full sized images, working from your desktop or laptop is preferred. And in comes Photoshop to the rescue. Actually, all filter apps started there in the first place.

Here’s a technique I picked up over at

Step 1
Open your image in Photoshop, then right click the layer and make it a smart object.

Step 2
Lighten the image a bit with either brightness/contrast, or curves. This image is adjusted with curves. Click the center point and drag upwards. This one registered an input value of 120 and output value of 140.

Step 3
Boost the contrast if necessary. For this image, it added intensity and definition to the wispy pine needles and grasses. The curves could have also given this effect, but the image didn’t need much so, brightness/contrast suited it fine.

Step 4
Spruce the colors with a dash of vibrance. Sensors in digital cameras tend to miss some of the color spectrum and this step just pumps it up.

Step 5
Emulate the color profile of film. The colors here are twisted to feel like film with a selective color adjustment layer The source image used the following values. Mine on the other hand already had lots of green, so I had to experiment.

Yellows: magenta +75, yellow +25
Greens: yellow +50, black +100
Blues: black +25
Blacks: black +10

You may want to experiment here some, too, depending on the effect you are after. Shadows in images from film cameras tend to be greener and highlights more yellow. Reducing magenta in the blacks will give that greenish hue to your shadows.

Step 6
Power down with a fade. After some tinkering, the source used a fill layer with a solid color of 4e4e4e set to lighten in the blend mode. Add more fade by duplicating the adjustment layer and toy a bit more. Reduce fade by reducing the opacity of the original layer. It’s subjective at this point.

Step 7
Add a hint of cross processing. There’s a preset for that in the curves adjustment. This gives the effect of one film type being processed in another’s chemical solution. It can provide interesting and unexpected results. It gives a strong effect and really pumps up the greens. To tone that back, reduce the opacity down to about 10%.

Step 8
Kick up the saturation after all this crazy coloring. Slider reading of 5 is just enough.

Step 9
Warm things up with a photo filter adjustment layer. This one takes in the warming filter LBA. The density and opacity can be tweaked as you like. Be sure to check the box to preserve luminosity.

Have Fun!

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