Making your digital images look more like film images

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by coastallight, May 18, 2007.

  1. I've been working on making my digital photos look more film like. There's something in the depth that I'm not getting in digital that I admire in film. (No, I don't want to switch to film.) I use CS3 and shoot in RAW. I have a Nikon D80. Besides increasing the blacks in RAW, what else can I do to get that depth? Carolyn Example: This is a photo of my son that I love, but it's still missing the depth (I can't come up with a better term) [​IMG]
  2. Part of the depth you are looking for is called "Dynamic Range". Film has more dynamic range
    than digital. There are many actions, filters, and processes that can get close to a certain type
    of film reproduction...i.e slide film, kodachrome, etc.

    I don't think I would be a qualified authority on this though, as I am strictly digital, and lack
    the ability to reference film comparisons. Someone will come along with some explanations
  3. I think viewing film based images on photographic print paper usually shows more contrast than does viewing digital images or film scans, on a monitor.

    You might try upping the contrast a bit.
  4. Is this the direction you are looking for?

    I applied a little "dehazing" USM, a slight S in curves, a small increase in the red saturation, some local sharpening of the hair, and a little blurring around the edges (although honestly most of change comes from the dehazing, curves, and saturation increase).
  5. BTW, if you view film based print scans, on a monitor, you'll see much difference between that and viewing a negative scan on a monitor, of the same image. The print scan will be more contrasty, showing less detail in the shadows.

    Very often the shadows are darker in film based prints.

    Don't forget we are talking about film based PRINTS which are often changed by the auto color/exposure features in 1-hour film processing, print making machines.

    You make one exposure in your camera for the film, then the lab's machine makes another exposure setting for the paper print, based on what it "sees" through the negative.

    Scanned negatives are usually less contrasty than are film based prints themselves.

    To sum up, print paper may have less dynamic range than does the actual film...and...viewing reflected light from prints is a different animal than viewing emited light from a monitor.
  6. Thank you Mike - that is what I was thinking of, dynamic range. Geoff, not quite what I was thinking of but thank you for your efforts. Tell me if they is more "film" looking. I did a dynamic range action I have sans the screen layer which I felt wasn't necessary for this image and I adjusted the levels to darken the shadow areas. [​IMG]
  7. Those are interesting comments. I suppose you need to be more specific. Are you interested in the final print, or just how things look on a monitor. I assume you mean the final print, otherwise, what's the point. Photographic paper has a relatively sharp characteristic curve, so that in the old days when people actually made optical prints by using an enlarger, the hard part was for the paper to reveal what was recorded in the negative, particularly if the negative recorded a scene with a large number of stops between highlights and shadows. Having recently moved from the darkroom to the digital darkroom, I find it satisfying (and amazing) how one can scan film, adjust the tonal range, and get a print that reveals what was recorded in the film. Having said that, the key here is that color negative film has a larger dynamic range than a digital sensor. It can record both hightlights and shadows that are not possible with todays consumer digital sensors. (At least with regard to the affordable sensors. The high-end, very expensive backs are supposed to have a high dynamic range. Interestingly, Fuji has some interesting technology that is supposed to give a more film like result, using photodectors of varying size.) So the problem is that for many scenes, you will not be able to get a final print that matches what you could get by using color negative film. To me, prints from digital sensors look more like prints from color slide film, which doesn't have the same dynamic range recording ability as color negative film. For many high-contrast scenes, you are probably stuck with the limitation of final prints that will not look like prints from color negative film. This is one of the reasons I have not switched to digital cameras. As technology increases, one would expect digital cameras to get closer to what color negative film can do.
  8. I use D80 too, and try to make the digital images like film .this is the practice of mine .

    Digital images' Dynamic Range is narrow than film.but both the shadow and light part is enough the film quality.the mid tone looks like more gray. Hence ,take out the mid-tone ,and creat a new layer ,choose the model as "Overlay" or "SoftLight", with "opacity"

    then to change the Curve , especialy the Blue chanel.

    good luck to you !

    this is the effect of my pic , by d80 ,jpg format,


    A practice of elder Portrait

    welcome to talk about more ,

  9. If this link works, here is my version using the shadow/highlight tool in photoshop to bring out the shadow detail. To my eye that is what shows up more in prints. BTW, I'd say the original image is slighly overexposed.
  10. Carolyn, you should probably look at how the "Curves" adjustment works. It's similar to "Levels", but gives you much more control over the shape of the function that converts the starting image values to the resulting values. It's probably the most powerful tool for adjusting the contrast and "feel" in an image. It's no coincidence that different films are described by their "characteristic curve".

    BTW, I like your processed version - mine ended up a bit oversaturated in the non-color-corrected browser world.

    Can you post a reference to the "dynamic range action" you used?


    Geoff S.
  11. this is a interesting topic i attention it. Carolyn, I use my method on your image, let me try to upload
  12. Here's my very quick shot at playing around with it a bit.: -)<p>
  13. Shoot darker by adjusting exposure and adjusting the camera's
    contrast settings if available.

    And I'm a bit confused by what's deemed as film having more
    dynamic range. I understood it to mean more detail and
    definition within a high contrast scene. What I'm seeing here is
    is to plug up detail in the hair and blow out highlites. How is that
    better dynamic range?

    More contrasty and saturated seems to be a more accurate
    description of the look of film in regards to this thread.
  14. And I agree with Geoff. Your processed version is perfect.
    Wouldn't change a thing.
  15. Mike Ferris wrote: Part of the depth you are looking for is called "Dynamic Range".
    HDR may be the right answer to increase the dynamic range. Have a look at HDR
    My quick result
  16. Great response from this forum as usual, I really like that about this site.

    Geoff, the action is from - they have quite a collection and many of them are very good depending on the image you're using.
    I think I like my conversion best as well but it still has that flat feel. Perhaps due to the DOF?
    I am actually quite good with photoshop, having done digital photo restoration for almost 7 years now. Your advise is good but I felt levels would work better here. Sometimes simpler is better.

    XB Liou - I'm not sure I understand what you are referring to by "take out the mid-tone" - how does one take out the mid-tone?
    I'm curious about this one and would like to give it a try.

  17. Hello,

    I'm not a professional but I think you have gotten the most out of the photograph with your second attempt.
  18. Carolyn,

    Would that be Paul Bleicher's Velvia/Provia v.2 action in the
    download section of you're referring?
  19. No - although I did buy a velvia action from Fred Miranda that is really nice, although I can't get it to work in CS3. I also have the Velvia/Provia v.2 you're referring to. I like the Miranda much better.

    The action is a dynamic range - I'm guessing it's Stinson's Dynamic Range Action - I've since changed the name so I can better find it in my array of actions (it's at the very bottom of the download page at atncentral)

  20. Here's my conversion along with XB Liou's action that he was kind enough to email me. It adds an interesting effect. I did bring it down quite a bit but I think it helps. Carolyn [​IMG]
  21. oh ,you do it better ! that effect as it happens , not always you can catch it, like this
  22. Very interesting - thanks for the link!

    "I think I like my conversion best as well but it still has that flat feel. Perhaps due to the DOF?"

    That's part of the reason I played with applying some blurring to the periphery. Bruce Fraser makes an excellent point in his image-sharpening book that one way to make something seem sharper is to soften nearby elements. It's tough to do well; I've never gotten anything to have the same look as a good out-of-focus fore/back-ground produced by a lens with nice Bokeh. It might be possible with enough skill...

    "I felt levels would work better here. Sometimes simpler is better."

    I agree. probably 90% of the time I just use levels, although recently I've been experimenting with curves using just a couple of points of generate a more tailored curve, but still with the simple smooth transitions like you get with the middle adjustment in levels.

    I will be interested to see if you can find some post-processing that gives you the "three-dimensional" look you want. I've found myself trying to give some of my photos more "depth", and I'm curious to see how that relates to the apperance you're looking for.


    Geoff S.
  23. Geoff, interesting regarding curves and levels. I have almost always used curves and steered away from levels but with the introduction of RAW and Adobe's Camera Raw, I've been able to accomplish what I want much easier than having to use curves in Photoshop. I now have to check levels because my D80 tends to underexpose so I need to adjust for that.
    And yes, I'm looking for that depth, too! Feel free to shoot me an email if you find any good conversions and I'll do the same.
  24. Speaking of getting that 3D look, when you get the chance, check
    out the Grand Canyon shot over at Luminous Landscape's
    Digital Processing section forum within the thread titled "Hey
    Schewe...the Sharpener" started by dabreeze.

    It's dabreeze's Canon EOS Mark II image embedded within the
    thread showing his sharpening results giving it an enhanced 3D

    I actually started experiencing vertigo staring at it. It's a very draw
    dropping shot when viewed at 100%.
  25. Geez,

    I wrote draw instead of jaw, well, you know what I mean.
  26. Thanks Tim - that looks a little flat to me, too. Oiu! Never satisfied, am I? or - great examples of what I am looking for in the way of "depth"

    Hope you don't mind Luis or Michael that I singled you out!
  27. Wow -- thanks so much for this thread. Not only have I learned a lot, but the link is amazing. Thanks again to everyone.
  28. Here is my Googlepages, I upload the files at here, good luck
  29. Liou - thank you. I'll look at these tomorrow when I have a little more time to play. I appreciate your help!
  30. thanks for your attention !
    And I appreciate for so much friend visted my personal space,

    As flollowing is a Photoshop plug-in ,as its intruduce:

    Exposure 2 is the new, even more feature-packed version of our award-winning Photoshop plug-in that gives digital photographs the look and feel of film. Whether you?re a fashion or wedding photographer, a designer or art director, with Exposure 2 you?ll have one-click access to the broadest range of film stocks and special effects settings available in any software package. That?s why Exposure 2 is the closest thing to film since film.

    there are some examples at its official web site


Share This Page