Friday, January 27, 2012

Rice? Sand? Nope, It's Film!

Greetings, volks. Welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place! Well, so much for no snow here in Hohenfels.

As promised last night, here’s our post on editing your digital images for the film look. We’re going to be using GIMP with some script-fu plug-ins. Even though we’re assuming you use and have GIMP there are 2 things before we begin; 1- these concepts apply to Photoshop and Paint Shop as well, but may be called something else, and 2- choose an image you think would look good as a film shot, and let’s get ready.

hohenfels Volks: Starting out, in B&W
ISO 125, f/4.5, 1/60, 53mm
We're going to start with this image. You can see the settings above. It was shot monochrome on the Canon EOS 7D, with a red filter applied and some very minor crushing of levels.

First, open GIMP. When it’s finished loading, select Open from the File menu. Navigate to your image and click Open. Once your image loads, right click on the layers palette and select Duplicate Layer. This is the layer we will be using as our background, which allows us to perform our edits without actually touching the pixels on the original image. Right click on your background and select Delete, leaving only the duplicate layer.

Right click on the duplicate layer and select New Layer. In the dialog box, Name your layer grain and select Transparency, then click OK. Make sure brush color is set for 50% gray, although darker shades will increase contrast and lighter shades will decrease it. I generally choose a darker shade to get an older style feel to the image, but the choice is up to your style and taste. Choose your Flood Fill tool, AKA Bucket Tool, and click inside the image area with your grain layer selected. You should see nothing but your selected color now. In the Mode drop down select Overlay. You can see your image now, although it will have some contrast changes.

Click on your filters menu. Select Noise, and then select Hurl. In the dialog box that appears, click the New Seed button, Then adjust your Randomization slide for about 10-15% and your repeat for 1-5. Then click OK. Your image now looks slightly contrasty and noisy, and quite unappealing. From the menu bar select Colors, then Hue-Saturation and decrease your lightness slightly and your saturation all the way down. Things are looking better, but it still needs some work. Go back to your filters menu and select Blur. From there, click Gaussian Blur. Set your radius to about 1-1.5 and click OK. The noise now looks like the grain on film, but we’re not done yet.

Next, select your background. Click on Script Fu in your menu and go to Sharpness. Select Sharper and finally click on High Pass Sharpen. Select your desired level of sharpening and click OK. You now have a new layer that is the sharpening level and looks like the lines from your original. Click the Eye Button to turn off your background.

Go back to the Colors menu and select Brightness-Contrast. I usually bring the brightness down, around 30 for most B&W photos, and increase the contrast to about 25, then click OK. Click the eye on your background layer again, turning it back on. You should be about right. The grain, contrast, and sharpness should be about what you’d expect from a general use film like ISO 200-400. If it’s too grainy, blur your noise layer in .25 pixel steps until it looks good. If your contrast is too high or low, adjust the brightness or transparency of your grain and sharpened layers.

And here's the final product. Although at this size, the grain isn't quite as prominent as it would be zoomed in, you can see the difference and the impact adding grain can have.

hohenfels Volks: finished grain in BW
This is more film like, although not quite as contrasty as pushing a little more could make it. Higher contrast can make for some nice old time photos that bring people back in time.

It isn’t perfect, but with some practice, patience, and trial and error, you can get something that looks like real film. Photoshop has plug-ins to do, as does GIMP, but the results are more natural when done manually. One important thing to remember is to make sure you remove all saturation from your grain layer. If you don’t, you’ll end up with colored noise that has no resemblance to film grain.

I hope you're working on your shots for the theme! Have a great weekend and shoot that trophy photo you've always wanted!

Don’t forget to post any of your images you’d like to see here at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

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