Toy camera effect

A deliberately low-quality image effect that mimics the retro look produced by cheap old film cameras. Pictures have added contrast and colour saturation and strong vignetting at the edges of the frame. Some toy camera effects add a colour shift to simulate old and out of date film.


Adding a coloured tone to black and white pictures to add depth or atmosphere. The most famous is sepia toning, so often used for Victorian portraits. These days most people simulate toning effects digitally using colour controls and effects filters.

Tonal Contrast (Color Efex Pro)

A filter in Color Efex Pro, part of the Nik Collection, to adjust the contrast with specific brightness ranges. For example, if the shadow areas of a photo are looking rather flat, you can boost them with the Shadows slider and leave the rest of the picture unaffected.


Overlays used by some image effects software to simulate dust and scratches on a negative, paper textures or other ‘distressed’ surfaces.

Split toning

A more complex type of toning where two colours are used not one – shadows are tinted with one tone and highlights with another. The results can be very effective, though it’s not always easy to find good-looking toning combinations and split toning doesn’t work with all images.


A technique for reversing the tones in the brightest parts of the picture to produce a ‘semi-negative’ photo. It can create a very dramatic and surreal effect. It used to be done in the darkroom by re-exposing a print to light part-way through development, but can now be done much more controllably using software.

Soft focus

An effect often used for portrait photography which gives a flattering or glamorous look to female faces. There’s more to it than just defocusing the picture, though – soft focus filters add a soft haziness to highlights and areas of even tone but preserve the underlying image detail.

Selective colour

A special effect which converts the whole image into black and white except for one specific colour range. One the the most common examples is a black and white image with a bright red subject – the girl in the red coat in the film ’Schindler’s List’, for example.


A software technique for changing the appearance of the lighting in a photo, and a variation on classic dodging and burning techniques. For example, you can use the Radial Filter tool in Lightroom to create a ‘spotlight’ on your principle subject, darkening the rest of the frame, or the advanced Lighting filter in Serif Affinity Photo.

Radial gradient

A tool in Lightroom and some other photo editing applications. The centre of the gradient area is left unedited, and the editing adjustment you make are blended in progressively towards the edges of the picture. You can change the size of the gradient, its position and how progressively the adjustments are blended in. The gradient can also be inverted so that your adjustments are applied in the centre and areas outside the gradient area are unaltered.


Specific adjustment settings, or groups of settings, saved for re-use. Presets are used widely by image-editing and effects software to apply a sophisticated set of adjustments to a photo with a single click.