Creating the 'faded look' in Lightroom

A sample image with a fade effect applied. Notice how the right corners are dark-grey and not perfectly black. Click through for a better view.

Having a faded look in a photograph is not an effect that everyone will find to their taste. Nevertheless, with the right photo and the correct output media (typically Instagram), said effect can be rather compelling.

A 'fade', as it is often called, is realised by lightening the 'blacks' in an image (the very darkest tones) such that they take on a dark-grey shade instead of, well, black. Lightroom’s Tone Curve is the perfect tool for this selective black-brightening requiring only three steps to affect the change:

Step #1

Ensure that your Tone Curve panel is operating in Point Curve mode by depressing the Point Curve icon.

Step #2

Place a few supporting points on the curve so that subsequent adjustments don’t send the whole graph into a wildly hallucinogenic tailspin.

Step #3

Lift the lower left adjustment point to dial in the desired amount of fade.

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