How to Create Dreamy Retro Colors in Capture One Pro

Learn how to create dreamy retro colors in Capture One Pro with this step by step tutorial from FilterGrade.

Exciting news, we’ve recently launched Capture One Styles on FilterGrade! Similar to filters in other photo editing programs, these help you add amazing effects to your photography work in seconds. They are incredibly versatile and can be used on all kinds of photography projects ranging from high end commercial/advertising work to portraits and lifestyle work.

When creating our Film Wash Capture One Styles, we learned a lot more about playing with the colors for nice film like retro effects in Capture One Pro. We’re going to share a bit of those techniques in this tutorial to help with adjusting and balancing light, adding dreamy retro colors, and more.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and we’ll help you out.

1. Import Your Photo(s)

To start, import the photo(s) you would like to edit with. For this tutorial, I’ll be using a photo I took at sunrise one morning in Santorini, Greece.

importing photos to capture one pro

2. Adjust Exposure and Curves

The first adjustments you’ll want to make are to the Exposure and Curves sections. This will help bring out colors and get the lighting proper for the final edit. The Exposure/Curves Settings are in the Exposure Tab seen in the screenshot below.

adjusting exposure in capture one pro

Change the Exposure sliders to the settings below and make a similar Curve. This Curve will help the colors pop a bit and fade the light/shade.

curves color pop in capture one pro


Here’s is what the adjustments look like when applied to my image.

retro effect in capture one pro

3. Play With Colors

Once you’ve added the base light/exposure adjustments, it’s time to do the colors and tones. My favorite part. :)

Start by navigating to the Color Tab and opening the Color Balance drop-down. Usually it is set to the Master Tab within the Color settings, for this tutorial we’ll be using the ‘3-way’ color adjusters. You can see the color adjusters and Color Tab in the screenshot below.

three way color adjustments in capture one pro

To bring out the colors of sunrise and add a natural retro tone to this photo you’ll want to change the shadows, midtones, and highlights to these settings.

how to get dreamy retro colors in capture one pro

By adding some reds to the shadows and light pinks to the highlights you can see a warm, vintage effects has been applied to the photo. Finally, bump the mid-tones up to a golden yellow/brown and the colors start to look really nice.

dreamy retro colors and film looks in capture one pro

4. Add Film Grain

Now that you’ve got the majority of the retro look made, you just need to complete one final step. Adding the film noise and grain!

To do this, navigate to the Details Tab and open the Film Grain drop-down.

film grain adjustments in capture one pro

By default, Fine Grain is selected, but for this effect you’re going to be using Soft Grain with an Impact of 30 and a Granularity of 55.

soft film grain settings for capture one pro

Here is a zoomed in picture to show you how this Soft Grain adds a nice haze to the photo.

how to add retro film grain in capture one pro

5. Final Touches

Now that all the adjustments are made, if you need to go back and make any other small tweaks to get the settings just right for your photo you can. Typically I will bump the brightness up a bit more after playing with the shadows just to show all the details in the entire photograph.

Here’s what the final image looks like.

How to Create Dreamy Retro Colors in Capture One Pro.

New Video Tutorial: Travel Edits in Capture One

Hope you liked the tutorial and learned some new techniques you can use in Capture One Pro for future photography projects! Be sure to check out Film Wash Capture One Styles if you want some pre-made film effects for your projects.

If you have any questions about the steps or settings, just leave a comment below. We’re happy to help. Finally, here’s a before/after photo you can save to your Pinterest for future reference. :)

Dreamy retro effect in Capture One Pro.

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