• Matthew Brooks

Back To The Preset

Recently I have been looking a lot of older pictures and loving that old film look. While it is not difficult to get a generic "film" look to your picture when editing them, I set myself the task of getting certain film looks from very specific and popular retro film manufacturers and making them into a preset. Most good presets that emulate old film stock are very expensive, the free ones are either rubbish or illegal. Having never shot on film since beginning my photography journey, I had to do a lot of research on what films were made and what look and characteristics these film gave to a photo. Some are very popular and I knew of, some less so. I decided to emulate some of the following; Kodak, Fujifilm, Ilford and AGFA.

However the issue with looking around the net at photos created using the film stock is that there are a lot of variables that can change the outcome slightly. The camera and lens combo, the subject and colours within a photo, the exposure settings used when capturing, the chemicals and process used when developing the photos, the paper used, the scanner used to make it digital, if any digital adjustments made, the creative vision of the photographer. So you could potentially look at 10 different photos and all 10 could be vastly different with very few similar characteristics. If you look on the manufacturers website it will say something like "fine grain and delivers excellent colour rendition"...this is trash, this does not tell me anything about the look of the film at all.

So after settling on a few example photos to work from for each, ones which I felt were as natural and less processed as possible and also reading multiple reviews on each film I started. I have a good range of photos which I can use for skin tones, architecture, landscapes so I could check it worked in all situations and as accurate as feasibly possible.

Overall I created 20 different film presets. Some are colour and some are black and white. They are:

And here a few photos with a few of those presets applied to them.

The effects are subtle between the different presets, but that is the point. Different films gave different looks but none looked ridiculously different to another. Every preset will suit a different photo more than it does another photo. If it doesn't quite work the way I want I can make small adjustments to suit that photo slightly better. With many of the free presets you can download they are too over the top and look awful, with too much adjustment to be made once they are applied. For the most part however my ones should work with just a click of a button to stylise my RAW files. If I want to batch process and make a whole load of photos look the same I can. Put in a load of hard work in one go and that makes editing easier in the future.

Thanks for reading, see you again.

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