One of my favorite plug-in discoveries  is Retrographer from Mr. Retro.  It works in Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Aperture, iPhoto.The plug-in designed to create authentic vintage photography effects. I’m already a big fan of Mr. Retro’s Machine Wash plug-in which ages text and images, and this versatile package really delivers. The manufacturer claims that users can perfectly re-create any vintage camera look including Lomo, Dianne, Holga, Polaroid, Brownie, Kodak, and Daguerreotype.  I’d say the claims are true.

To start there are a wide range of presets – over 1,100 preset camera settings to choose from.

But the presets are just starting points.  You’ll find total contra over all aspects. You can adjust:

  • Lens – Control focus and distortion.
  • Flash – Control light and spot effects.
  • Film – Control tone and grain for a unique look.
  • Lab – Control exposure, color, and hue.
  • Effects –Add vignettes, light leaks,and  halftones.
  • Finish – Add detailed textures and frames.

I really liked the toning and grain controls.  They are some of the most versatile I’ve ever found.

I found that the filter was very versatile…  although some of the controls were almost too deep.  Also, a small drawback, some effects require you to enter X and Y coordinates into field (hopefully sliders or draggable controls will appear in the future). The only other drawbacks that it is an 8-bit only filter…  but I guess the logic goes if you’re going to age or stylize your image this much, 16-bit color fidelity goes out the window.

I really liked the Finish Controls. a great library of textures and vignettes really added to the image.  I also found the natural media approach to be truly refreshing and inline with how I would do these techniques manually (whether digitally or physically processing).

The controls definitely show how serious the developer was about the product.  While there are a few oddities and gaps, this really is an amazing product (especially for a discerning photographer who wants precision).  If your brain wants to just roll the dice… one nice option is clicking the Auto button (the second button in the top bar).  This will generate random looks and is a great way to experiment.  The other two buttons link to a detailed user manual and a useful preset gallery online.

To find out more and see more examples of Retrographer in action, simply head to: http://www.misterretro.com/filters/retrographer
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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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