Mood, matte, chrome and fade are just some of the words I get ever so often in my Instagram DMs asking me how to achieve a certain type of look. Today I will be doing a short tutorial and discuss how some of your favourite Instagrammers make their photos look “MOODY”. 

For the sake of this tutorial I will be using the term “fade” to describe what some of you call “matte” or “chrome” and I will be doing my edits on Adobe Lightroom. If you are editing on a different platform, fret not as most editing apps and softwares also allow you to adjust the Tone Curve of an image.

The secret of achieving this fade lies in the Tone Curve. 

For those of you that are not familiar with the tone curve, allow me to explain what the tone curve is and what it does. 

The areas that are separated by red lines represent the different areas of the tone curve namely: Shadows, darks, lights, highlights. This part of the tone curve is very straightforward and moving the sliders left to right would increase or decrease the value of whatever you are adjusting.

Ok so you get the rough idea of what the tone curve does. Next we will be taking a look on how to achieve that faded look. In order to get that fade you are looking for we need to use a more flexible version of the tone curve that can be toggled by clicking on this button.

You will now see that the bottom sliders that were once present have disappeared and we are greeted with a similar tone curve. You can now have more flexibility in adjusting the tone curve by adding different points on the line and move them as you wish.

To achieve the fade we will only be making adjustments on the RGB channel.

Two existing points will already be on the line, click on the point that is on the bottom left and slightly pull it up. 

By doing so the darks in the photo have now become brighter and you get the fade that you have been looking for! However,the image now looks very flat and there are less dynamics in the tones.

Thus by adding more points on the tone curve you can further adjust how the image looks and make it more interesting. 

A generic tone curve would resemble an S shape to add contrast to the image, however you can get creative and try different shapes to achieve different results. After placing more points on your tone curve, you can simply change the amount of fade by moving the left most point up and down or even left and right. All you are basically doing to achieve the fade in an image is to adjust the left most point on the tone curve.

For this particular image I ended up with this tone curve.

Lets take a look at difference when I have my tone curve tab switched on and off. 



As observed the photo looks more “moody” after the adjustments. Take advantage of the tone curve as it can take your photography to the next level.

I believe that in photography there are no hard rules and the same goes for editing. Whatever that I’ve mentioned in this tutorial is just a guideline for you and you don’t have to use the same settings as me it in order to make your photo look great. Every image is different and therefore everyone’s adjustments will differ.

If you are interested in seeing how some of my best images are edited you can download my lightroom presets here:

Have fun editing and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop me a DM on my instagram!