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3 Ways To Crush Blacks In Photoshop For That Faded Matte Look

By Kishore Sawh on October 1st 2016

Unless you’ve been in the bowels of some cellar à la Saddam Hussein circa 2003, you’ll be aware that a faded or ‘matte’ look has been a prevalent look in photography for years now. Perhaps often associated with ‘hipster’ the matte look has useful application particularly when trying to give an image a vintage look and feel, as is often the target in film emulation. Those who find shooting fish in a barrel good sport will predictably chime in here, but the fact remains it’s a popular look.

What was, perhaps, extremely surprising was the number of people who were desperately wanting to know how to do this that hadn’t a clue, because really they were probably just looking too hard. There are various methods that can be followed to achieve varying degrees of fade and all of them dead easy.

You can reference this post I wrote some time ago showing a great way to achieve the look in Lightroom simply by minor manipulation of the tone curve, and check out the video herein where Mathieu Stern demonstrates 3 ways to ‘crush’ those blacks to apply a faded matte look in Photoshop. In fact, with minor tweaks you’ll see, if you have familiarity with any post processing software, that you can do most of this in Lightroom also.



[REWIND: Photoshop Tutorial | Why & When You Should Use The Healing Brush Tool With A Hard Edge]

Each option Mathieu gives will bring about a slightly different result, and each can be easily tweaked as well so you arrive at a final look that’s tailored. However, due to the fact they are all tweakable you could just record each as a preset to make your life easier in application for future images. Check out the video below and you can learn more from Mathieu on his site and Youtube channel.

PS – just a word of caution that should you be planning on printing these images, Iv’e found that you really want to have your monitor and printer calibrated, and perhaps even have an idea of how and where and under what lighting the image is being displayed. The matte look can really look quite different on paper than on screen, and I suggest a lighter hand.

Source: ISO1200

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kellan McCall

    Awesome! I’m just as fascinated by the Massive Attack/Muse mashup as I am the matte techniques.

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