What's Sepia & Where Did it Come From? - Enlight Leak
Menu & Search

What’s Sepia & Where Did it Come From?

May 12, 2016

Sepia is a filter you may come across while using an app to edit your mobile photos, but what is it? Furthermore, how does it enhance your photos? If you take one look at sepia, you’ll realize that it instantly puts a hazy brownish-yellow tint over your photo, but it’s more than just a vintage style filter. Here’s what you should be using sepia for, as well as how it works magic on certain photos.

What is Sepia & Where Did it Come From? | Enlight | Enlight Leak

What Exactly is Sepia?

Sepia is a burnt color tone filter that is often available as an editing option in photography software. The goal of sepia is to take standard monochromatic photos and turn them into something a little more eye-pleasing. The red, yellow and brown tones associated with sepia bring warmth to photos that would otherwise not be there.

Sepia emerged in the 1800s when photographers began adding toner to black and white pictures in the dark room to “lighten” them. However, the emergence of color photography in the 20th century contributed to the decreased use of sepia filtering.

What is Sepia & Where Did it Come From? | Enlight | Enlight Leak

Today, people are easily utilizing sepia through digital photography filters, rather than toners. Many choose to use sepia to give their photos a vintage feel.

When Should You Use Sepia?

As previously stated, many people choose to use sepia in their photos when they are trying to date them back to an older period of time. However, this isn’t the only reason why you should consider sepia for your digital photos.

The warmth of a traditional event, such as a wedding, may be lost in standard digital photos. For this reason, many modern photographers turn to sepia for shots that require a bit of romance and nostalgia. Warm tones can also provide a bit of longevity to photographs of an event, cementing them in history. Sepia may give viewers a sentimental feel when they look back on a picture, whether it was taken five days or five years ago.


That being said, it’s up to the photographer to determine whether sepia is right for the particular shot. If you’re taking a selfie at the bar, for example, you might want to choose a different filter that takes dim lighting into consideration. However, a landscape shot of the ocean can be given warmth with a sepia tone during the editing process and create an image that stands the test of time.

sepia2 twenty20_08911190-7878-43b2-b8e5-34bd181bc7dc

How Can You Incorporate Sepia?

There are a number of ways to impose the sepia filter onto your digital photos. The easiest way? Photo editing apps. For beautiful sepia look using Enlight, go to Filters > BW > Tools tab > Film > raise Intensity to 100 and increase Fade to around 60.

If you want to give your image a feel from the old film days, here’s where you increase Grain, as well. For a warmer sepia tone, go to Image > Adjust > Tools tab > Color and raise Saturation and Temperature, and experiment with Tint.


Just remember, it’s up to you as the photographer to determine what works for your pictures. In the end, black and white might convey the same feeling as sepia, depending on the subject matter. But sepia may work on portrait photos or on architectural images or on landscapes – it’s all worth a try. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a number of filters – including sepia – on your quest to perfectly portray your image.

Written by: Krystle Vermes.



Krystle Vermes
Krystle Vermes

Krystle Vermes is a professional writer, blogger and podcaster with a background in online and print journalism. Passions include everything tech, sports, and the paranormal. When she isn’t freelance reporting, she’s running her paranormal blog, GetSpooked.net. Krystle is a graduate of Suffolk University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism.

Related article
A Mobiographer’s Journey From Analog to iPhone

A Mobiographer’s Journey From Analog to iPhone

A couple of years ago, mobiographer Erica “Spin” Simas moved…

3 Ways to Make Direct Sunlight Work for You

3 Ways to Make Direct Sunlight Work for You

There’s a rule of thumb which says never to take…

6 iPhoneography Tricks Every Beginner Should Know

6 iPhoneography Tricks Every Beginner Should Know

It’s easy to find in-depth mobile photography advice if you…

Type your search keyword, and press enter to search