Post Processing – Civil War Era Look

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I attended the Huntington Beach Civil War Days Reenactment on Labor Day weekend.

One of the things I wanted to accomplish was to make the photographs look like they were taken in the Civil War era. Well, first off, I don’t consider myself on expert on what Civil War era photographs would look like, but I envisioned that converting the photographs to a sepia tone would do the trick.

The method I chose to do this was the Develop module of Adobe Lightroom. I admit, I’m not that patient about trying different adjustments to see the affect on my photographs so I’m all about the presets.

Lightroom comes with some presets, you can create you own or you can get them from third-parties. In Lightroom you can hover your mouse over a preset and it will show you in the Navigator window what the photograph would look like if you chose that preset.  Once you choose a preset you can either stop there or adjust further if you like.

I found a preset I really liked and applied it to all the photographs that I wanted to publish to my SmugMug gallery as I wanted them to have a consistent look. The photographs below show a before and after

Lesson Learned:

  • Creating a photograph doesn’t always stop with the click of the shutter
  • How you post process a photograph can have a big impact on the final result. Is the first photograph (original) as interesting as the second (processed)?
  • Using presets can take a lot of trial and error out of processing a photograph..meaning it can be faster and easier.


  • Look at the software you use. Does it allow you to make adjustments to your photographs?
  • Does your software include presets?
  • Try converting a photograph or a copy of a photograph to sepia

Sources for Lightroom Presets (to name a few)