Film-ish: The Two Sarahs and Film Simulation

The Two Sarahs - Austin, Texas

The Two Sarahs – Austin, Texas

One last portrait, for now, from last week’s Drink and Click. In the last two posts, I featured portraits of Sarahs — a photographer and a model. Here they are together.

I’ve been quietly playing with film simulations of late, generated in many ways. I’ve used in-camera processes, like the Olympus PEN-F does, or I’ve used post-processing via computer software. I’ve even imported images taken with my big cameras into iPhone applications (Filmborn and RNI Films).

Part of me is curious how well these work. Though I’m no film expert, even the best ones don’t seem to match film — their own examples on their websites confirm this. But they certainly produce a look that is different. And that’s what ultimately matters. For me, It’s not about getting an accurate simulation, rather it’s about creating a different look. Their adjustments to RGB curves and other settings are a lot more elaborate that what I do. If it can produce a look that I like, easier, why not try something new?

Certain cameras don’t have a default color that I especially like, such as the Panasonic ZS50 or the Ricoh GR. Even after post processing, the colors don’t come out great, probably due to my level of post-processing competence. Running these pictures through a film simulator often produces a more desirable color. I’ve already started a collection called Film-ish where I’ve grouped together my past “film like” posts.

If you look at my film-ish posts, the non-black and white photos share a similar feel. They tend to have more contrast and a color richness different from my usual processing. Probably my most successful example is the Red Truck. I usually don’t get such rich reds. I also like the greens, which are deeper instead of the yellow-greens that I often get with the Panasonic.

Of course, these are just tools to create that desired image. Unlike today’s photo, most of the images are not “out there” and might not be noticeable unless pointed out. And, perhaps, the film effect may be exaggerated in my head. Today’s image is a lot wackier than usual, color-wise, maybe to make a point. It’s supposed to simulate the PX-70 film used in the Polaroid SX-70 instant cameras. I think it has sort of a hipster-ish feel to it.

Film simulations or my usual post processing, for that matter, are not about color accuracy or realism. I’ve moved past the desire for accurate color long ago — after all, this is not product photography. I’ve realized, photography is about moods, emotions and stories. I know I don’t always achieve what I set out to do. But it’s so liberating to reject mere accuracy and move into the realm of creativity.

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2 thoughts on “Film-ish: The Two Sarahs and Film Simulation

  1. I have come to rely on combinations of filters, mostly from Topaz, but I also use NIK filters, especially for converting to monochrome and adjusting colors … which they seem to do better than Topaz. BUT for artistic effects, Topaz has some great filters. Very easy to use. You might want to test drive some of them. I know Topaz offers a month of free trials for any filter and I think NIK does too.

    NIK (Google) and Topaz update their stuff automatically. Once you own a filter, you get updates free. I do not have the entire set of Topaz filters; some seem redundant or are I think I won’t use it. If you’re interested, I can tell you what I like and what I think is a waste of disk space.

    Vis-a-vis the Panny-Leica 25mm f1.4, I gave it a run at f4, f3.2 and f5.6, with ISO at 200 or 250. What I eventually realized is a very bright scene with minimal contrast looks burnt to me … but it isn’t really. The camera and lens had indeed captured the scene accurately. It just wasn’t what I wanted. It can only capture what’s there. The rest is up to me.

    1. I have a few of the Topaz filters too. Though I use their ReMask and DeNoise most often.

      I’m glad you figured out the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 issue.

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