Live Edit: How I Get the Film Look
Most of the ones in here, I have like a film counterpart and a digital counterpart. Whenever you have that, the nice thing is, you have a reference photo to edit off of. So if you are hybrid shooter or if you really want to try, like, try to perfect that matching look, what you can do is, especially in a situation like this, where it was all pretty much of a consistent lighting situation, you could shoot one roll of film, send it in, and then shoot the rest digital. Then you at least have something to match it back to. So for something like this, what you can do is, well, first of all, for white balance purposes, I make this backdrop here white. So you have an option, I think it comes default light gray, but I've found that if you make it white, you already have your natural white, right, for white balance purposes. You have like your white card right next to you already. So I personally like making it white. Then, if you have a reference photo to compare it to, you can set this as a r...
eference photo and then that way you'll have your other image side by side. So you'll be able to see how to get it. But you can see, this one came out of the GFX and it's, I think, out of camera, already looks pretty good, right? So I want to start with this one on purpose because I was trying to start with just basic and simple first. It does get more complicated after this, right? Like, this is like a dream situation and it's not always like this. When it comes back like this, you're like, sweet, I don't have to do much to this at this point. So, like I said, I don't, I'm not, I don't consider myself like a big techie person. I don't find joy in being in front of a computer and so I try to streamline as much of this process as possible. So Refined presets does the heavy lifting for me. There's three color options, Patina, Pure, and Serene. My favorite is Patina and then Pure is my other one. Patina, I think, is a little bit more gritty and a little more grungy, it's more filmy to me. It's, it is similar to if you shoot Kodak Portra. And then Pure is more clean. And I think it's a little bit more similar to if you shoot Fuji 400H. Now, I love Fuji 400H. My lab, I think I like a little bit of an in between Fuji 400H and Portra. So that's why, when I shoot the two film, to be honest, I don't see that much of a difference. And again, I think that's because my lab is helping me make it look consistent, right? And so I think that's what I like about having these presets, is it allows me to customize it the way I want and how much I need. So depending on the image, I typically go to Patina, unless it doesn't work. Then I'll try, if it's sometimes looking too, like, for example, my commercial shoots, I'll stick with Pure because Pure's cleaner. But for my more artsy shoots, then I'll do Patina because I think it's more pretty. So you can see, this is RAW on this, on the right, and then one click of Patina. So what that's done, I think it's softened up the highlights a little bit. It's given it a little bit of a tone. And if I really wanna nitpick, I think the left is a little bit pinker. So I can either, there's a, there's called Blush Tone right here, which is, some people would describe my images having a little bit of a pinkness to it and this Blush Tone tool here gives that. It gives a little bit of a pink. So I just added a little pink to it. From there, you can just either, I think warming it up a little bit matches it to the left more. But because of this class, that I'm talking about how to make it look like film, I'm being a little more nitpicky than I normally would. Because, to be honest, I don't try to match it exactly. I try to give it the same look. And I actually avoid shooting them side by side. I shot these side by side for test purposes, but if you're gonna try to shoot both film and digital, I think, at least for deliverables, I think it's best if you have your film moments and your digital moments. Because then that way you're not worried about, like, you know, nitpicking. Like, it has to be good, like both images are good. Do you know what I mean? But if you're comparing, are they exactly the same? So again, it's like, what's your measure of success, right? So if you're gonna measure your success as getting an exact match, like, to be honest, I don't think your clients are looking for an exact match. So I think at that point you're overthinking it and over, being overly critical, right? And, in a way, kind of setting yourself up to be depressed. So (laughing), and so I think you have to be realistic with those expectations, too. It's like, I need a cohesive look, I need stuff that blends well together, that looks good, like, delivered in a package, but I'm not, I don't need it to be an exact match, right? Even if you shot stuff side by side exactly, sometimes they're not exactly the same anyway, right? The sun might have slightly shifted or whatever. So I think it's okay to be, like, a little bit different. And you don't have to be so hard on yourself, getting that exact same look. And so the other tool that I use a lot is Grain because with film, there's the natural grain that comes with it. So there's three levels of grain you can choose from, Grain, Grain Plus, and Grain Plus, Plus. For me, I stick with Grain. It's familiar to a medium format film scan. Grain Plus, Plus I save for my black and whites because I like my black and whites more gritty. And then Highlight Recover I've found to be really helpful because, like I said, film doesn't blow out the highlights the way digital does. And so this Highlight Recover tool kinda helps, brings a little bit more details back in it. And so once I've fixed all that, I think it's, I think that's, like, I would be happy with this. You know, unless you were comparing it side by side, I don't think you would've known the difference. If I was, if I had received just the image on the right on its own, I wouldn't have, like, oh my gosh, this is, this doesn't fit in with the rest. Like, it would blend in with the rest, right? So this was kind of an easy one, but I thought it was a good one to start with. So we can get into a little bit more about contrast at this point. So this one is, let me reset this one as the reference photo now. There we go. Okay, so you have film on the left and digital on the right. So right off the bat, I can already see we have white balance and contrast difference, right? So let me try, again, I go to Patina first to help me with most of the heavy lifting. And to be honest, sometimes Patina looks kinda crappy, when you first click it, because it does want more light in it. So if you just slide it up, then that can bring... So I slide exposure up until the skin looks right to me. So I don't worry about the hair yet at this point. I'm just trying to get the skin to look right. So I rely on exposure for that. So I'm sliding exposure up to a point where I like it. So now, then I can go in, well, let me add Grain to it first and then I'm gonna add Highlight Recover because I already know there's some hotspots on this side of it. So with that, now I can come in and fine-tune the contrast or the shadows. So which one do you go for first, contrast or shadows? For me, what I judge it by is, am I happy with the amount of, So remember I was saying how harsh the contrast is, like how defined are those shadows, if I'm looking at the sun casting my shadow, right? So, am I happy with how much contrast? And if there's too much contrast, then I'll lower the contrast first. But if the contrast is fine but just the hair's really dark and I'm just needing more details in the hair, like a little more details in the shadow, then I'll slide up shadows instead. So with this one, I feel like it's, I'm pretty happy with how it's looking. I just don't want the hair as dark. And so I can try sliding up the shadows a little bit. And what I also do is, I go a little bit with both. So I don't go, like, a whole lot of shadow with no contrast. Does that make sense? Like, I'll do little bit of contrast, little bit of shadow, little bit of contrast, little bit of shadow, until I find something that works. So I'll try lowering the contrast just a tad, as well. And then I think temperature can probably come down a tad. And so I think that is like, pretty dialed in at this point. I mean, I can really like nitpick if I wanted, but if the client was not having a side by side photo to compare it to, I don't think she would really care, right? Like, she's not thinking, wait a minute, I think the green's a little bit too green, right? That's like stuff only other photographers are looking at. So the next one is a really heavily backlit photo. So let's set this as the reference photo now. So this one, right off the bat, I can see it's, you know what I noticed about the last photo is, once I hit Patina, I actually didn't have to do the white balance so much. So I'm curious if that will do that this time, too. So, whoops, so let's slide up the exposure. Okay, too much. So again, I'm trying to get the skin to be where I like it. Add some Grain into it. Let's recover some of those highlights back. And it needs warmth. Okay, so this one still needs warmth. I'm actually kinda fine with that. If anything, the film I might, if I was editing the film, I might have brightened that one up a little bit. So you can go either way. You know, you can choose to go like a little bit darker, which I think is a little bit more of a better match, or you can go a little bit brighter. And so, but I think for the most part, as long as the highlights are being recovered, in a heavily backlit situation like this, it will give that nice, like, creaminess in the highlights. And so if anything, maybe a little bit of shadows to bring up the hair. But, yeah, I mean, this one could easily have gone into a silhouette, too, right? If I didn't expose for the shadows, her body, and let it expose for the window, it would have ended up just being like a blacked-out silhouette. So, yeah. And then I just have a few more studio shots. So the difference is, this one was completely backlit. This is, this would have been equivalent to if you were shooting into the window, like this. So you naturally get like this hazy look. And I like it because the purpose of the shot was to get that very kinda hazy, dreamy look, right? But, if you don't like it, so, with Refined presets, there's two packs. One is Refined One, which was the original Refined. And then there's Refined Signature. And the Signature is the one that I helped develop. And so there are some tools in Refined One that I love that's not in Signature. Obviously, I love Patina and Pure and that's only in Signature, because that's my colors. So, but they both have a purpose. So if you don't like the haze so much, there's a Dehaze option here. And when you click the Dehaze, it can, actually, that kinda makes it look really like the film now. When I just hit, when I hit Dehaze. So I guess it just didn't have that much haze in it. So let's, okay, I'm gonna switch to this one. And then, there we go, all right. So now, the difference with this, this is shot more similar to this situation here. So the window is on that side. The window is on this side of her. So I guess it'd be equivalent to if I had the backdrop here and I'm shooting into her this way. And I did have like a reflector on this side, trying to bounce back a little bit of light to lessen the contrast. And so for this one, let's see. Let's... So again, I might try Pure for this one instead. So let's go Pure, Grain, and Highlight Recover. And again, once you figure out, when you have, when you're working with presets, if you figure out a combination that you like, you can then turn that into a one-click. You can save that as one preset so that you have, you know, in one click just go ahead and apply Pure, Grain, and Highlight in one click. I leave it as separate because, when I'm doing my commercial shoots, I don't want the grain in it, necessarily. Depending, but not necessarily. And so that's why I like to keep it separated. And I like kind of having that manual control. Okay, so I'm sliding it up until her skin looks about, and again, not color, because this is not white balance, right, this is just exposure. So I'm getting the skin to just match the brightness of the skin in the film. So now, then we can slide the temperature to... I think that's looking pretty good. And then the last thing would be checking in on my contrast. Do I want more contrast or less contrast? Do I want the shadows to be darker or a bit... I like that right now. I think I'm just gonna leave that as is. So this one was same place, but different time, different model. And I'm gonna show you two different situations. Like, one where I didn't get any clothes on her. And then, that red actually, like, really threw the editing into a loop. And so I'll, I figured I'll start with when it was still simple first. So this one, I think, this was shot on 400, Fuji 400H. And so typically, that would be like more of a Pure look, it's more of a clean look. The Kodak Portra 400, I don't shoot 400, I shoot 800. That one is a little bit more warmth and is more Patina, to me. It's a little more rich. And so, but this one, since I did 400H, let's see how that is. And so I just applied the three, Pure, Grain, and Highlight Recover. You know, I'm gonna zoom in for Grain in a little bit, for you guys. And so now it definitely needs more exposure to match the brightness. And then now a little bit of temperature. A little bit of warmth, I mean. And I think that looks pretty close. So let's check out, what the grain, how the grain matches. So, trying to find like a good spot. Gosh, once you're zoomed in, that detail (laughing), it's like, you can really start nitpicking, right? Like, is it the same brightness, is it the same, but yeah, it's a really clean grain to me because that's how, like, the medium format grain is. It is there, though, versus, let me see if I, I'm trying to find the same part of her neck. So what I wanted to do was, if I go, where's a good part to see it? Okay, if I undo the grain, if we can see it in detail, of it happening. So that's Grain, that's Grain Plus, Plus, Grain Plus one, and regular Grain, and then no Grain. Can you see it in that detail? Okay. So to me, with the grain, like, it's not something that's in your face. It's more like, again, you would have to really zoom in to see it, but it does add a little bit of that, like, filminess to it. And texture. Okay, so let's, next reference photo. So this was taken in a different place, even though it's still a white wall, like my studio. But this was taken in a completely different place. But same thing, this is something you can do with any bride. Or any, if you're shooting, you know, a family session or anything at someone's house, you can pull them next to a window and you know that you'll have your, you know, the window light, then, I was talking about, right? So with this one, I'm gonna go with Pure again. And then Grain and Highlight Recover. So this one, it's again a white balance issue. Like I was saying, the two most, biggest thing you're gonna have to adjust is exposure and white balance. And once you get especially the white balance done, I feel like most of the work is there. Then it's just fine tuning from that point. But this one can use a little bit more warmth. You know, I wonder how Blush Tone would work on this one. Because it looks a little pinky on the left. And then you can always add more pinkiness to it. And sometimes I find that when, you have to cool it down a bit, otherwise you get orange. So there's like a fine balance before it starts looking orange. So, the next tool I want to show you, let's turn that one off. Okay, so this one I wanted to show you how I use the Gradient tool. So for this situation, this is my studio. So you have windows on one side. When you're shooting just one person, right, you're dealing with the difference of light here and here. That's not, so light falls off based on the inverse square law. So if you are two times away from the window, you actually lose four times the amount of light, right? And so if you're talking about from here to here, you can see, like, there is a loss of light, even going from here to here, but it's small, right? So that's why we're able to edit, like, all of the pictures that I've edited up until now have been one person. So it's been a pretty small difference from here to here. When you have four people now, like this girl, or her mom, is probably like double the distance to the window, compared to this girl, right? So she's actually losing four times, has four times less amount of light. So what I do here is, so let's go Patina on this one. Grain, Highlight Recover, my standard, right? So now, like I said, I do Exposure until I like the skin. But if you notice, this girl's skin is already getting blown out and hers is still really dark. Right? So who are we gonna adjust to? So my advice, pick one. Just go with one first. So let's go with the, let's go with her, right here. So I'm, okay, I think that looks okay for her. Then I go into this Gradient tool right here. And so now I tell, so what the Gradient does is, like, you know gradient when you go black and it slowly fades to white. It does the same thing with whatever setting. So right now, I'm just trying out a number and I'll tweak it after. But let's say this is Exposure plus one. So I'm saying, you're gonna do plus one, but kind of start to fade as you go through the image. You see? So it's plus one over here, but it's probably like plus 75, plus five, and it slowly softens up. And so it kind of matches up the two a little bit. So you can see now, this is like a much more evenly lit photo, right? So I love the Gradient tool for that. And you can use it for white balance, as well. So if you have a situation where you have natural light coming from this way and some other tint coming from this way and you're trying to, you know, if you make this side warm, this side's too cool, and vice versa. Then you can use that Gradient tool to warm up but only slightly, from this side coming in. I also use the Gradient tool for something like this because if you look, this is, I'll zoom in for you to see. So gorgeous menu, right? But it's like white on white on white, right? So overall, I think the image is a little bit dark for me. So if I brighten this up, so let's see what happens. I'm, I'll run Patina on this. Let's do Grain and let's just go ahead and preemptively recover the highlights. So now I wanna brighten this up a little bit, but if I brighten this up, I'm gonna start losing details in those letters, right? So what I could do instead of, I can adjust the exposure just until the plate. So right now, I'm adjusting it for the plates. For down here, until I like it. Until I feel like it's bright enough that it still looks pretty, but I'm able to see the words still. I'm not losing details in that. Then I can come into the Gradient tool here. And then that's, plus one is too much for that. I should've adjusted prior. But, so that way I'm getting, I'm able to lighten up the top part without sacrificing this part of it. So now, here's another. So let's take it outdoors now and talk about the color cast that I was saying. So, hold on, set as reference photo. Okay, this image here was shot on grass. And what you're gonna deal with with grass is, like I said, the green color cast. So you can see, her skin just looks not so good right now, right? This was shot on a Cannon 5D Mark Three. And this film image here, Richard Photo Lab has already done most of the correcting for me. So let's see, this one, and I'll already say, is a tough image because any time you have color cast, like if I'm trying to undo the green by adding more magenta in, I'm gonna start getting more magenta grass as well, right? So, and again, like, yes, you can go and selectively, you know, open it up in Photoshop, mask something out and all that, but I'm not gonna do that to like a whole set. Like, I'm not a computer person, right? So let's see if we can find like a happy medium. So let's go Patina and see. If Patina's too much, I'll try Pure in a little bit. So this is looking really green. So let's, so the opposite of green is magenta, so I'm sliding up the magenta here. So now, I feel like this part is starting to look pretty good, right? Like, the arms, her arms are looking pretty good. But her face, like, what do we do about her face? So I'm gonna try and see if adding more shadows in, and then lowering the contrast. Because I think it's like in the shadows where I was kinda getting that funky color. And then maybe... So, how's that looking? A lot closer? And, like I said, the reason why I spent so much time on this shoot to begin with is because I think the more you can get right in the shoot, the less you're gonna be behind your camera doing this stuff after, right? So I moved her off the grass shortly after this. All right, so this one is another one that was taken outdoors. And so I think mostly, it's just kind of a temperature thing so let's go Patina, Grain, recover the highlights, especially in the back. And this one, I might have to go Gradient in the back to pull that down. But let's see, if I just warm that up. It's a little green. And to be hones, this one, like, in comparison, now feels a little bit dark to me. But I think, ultimately, what makes this look like film, though, is that, like I think the coloring, again, just because it's film, it can be scanned very differently, too, right? So it could be, it could've been scanned a little bit brighter or a little bit darker. So I think those are all matter of preferences. I don't think that's so much what we're trying to match exactly. But there's a certain element that makes this look like a film image, is, the one is the motion, right? That even though I shot it outdoors, and I could have shot it at like, I don't know, at a like shutter speed of 500 or whatever, I didn't, you know, because I was still trying to get a little bit of that motion in the dress. You know, and I could've shot at a higher aperture, but I didn't, I shot at a low aperture because I was trying to get a lot of still that shallow depth of field. So I feel like, for the most part, this image already had that film look because of the slower shutter speed and the shallow depth of field. So yeah, you've got the movement in the dress, you've got the blurry background. And then, let's see which other ones I think are good demonstrations. This is another color cast example here. So film on the left, digital on the right. Again, shot on top of grass. During high noon, right, you could tell by all the splotchy lighting here. This one I already know is gonna be an exposure issue. I'll go with Pure on this one because I think, I don't know, we'll try it and see. One of the things that I've found works best in regards to the editing is if you can get your exposure mostly right. I've found that if you have to slide your exposure beyond plus one, other things start to happen as it's trying to compensate for that. Like, you'll start to have more issues with like adjusting the contrast, the shadows and all that. But if you can keep it within the plus one range, then sometimes that's all you'll have to do. But if you go beyond the plus one, then you'll start to have to tweak other things as well. And so, a little bit more pink on this one. And I think that looks pretty good. Okay. Now, I'll show you what was a difficult one. So, in general I find greens hard to edit and reds hard to edit. The greens, I feel like with using Refine, though, we got it to look pretty similar. Let me reset this as the reference photo. Yeah, like I think the greens matched, were matching pretty well. And I think, oh, this is another example of a green. Okay, so that's the digital, on the left. So I'm going with Pure for this one because I don't, I feel like it's kind of a cleaner image. So let's see, if I get the warmth up. And I feel like the greens match, look pretty good. I think some of the stuff that I was trying in the past, trying to emulate my film, was causing the greens to look neon or fluorescent or blue, instead. And so to me, like, if it can handle green and reds, I think that's key. But I'm gonna show you what happens when you don't get the color that you want. So for this one, so film on the left, the digital, GF, Fujifilm GFX on the right. And so let's try running Pure on this one because it was shot on Fuji 400H. So again, Grain and Highlight Recover. So if I slide this up go be about the same brightness, and then warm this up, so right now, what I'm doing is I'm going for her skin. I'm trying to get her skin to match first. And I think the skin looks pretty good. But if you notice now, like, the color of the dress, right, is starting to look orange. So just to be up front, like, I'm not gonna try to match the red in the dress because I'm not trying to sell a dress here. So I'm not trying to get perfect, accurate colors in the dress. Do you know what I mean? But, if I'm delivering this to a client, I want it to look close enough together, right? And so if it's looking a little bit orange to you, you can come down into the HSL here, and so here it's like red versus orange. How red do you want your reds? Do you want it very red, or do you want more orangy? So depending on here, you can see, if I go this way, it makes it more orange, right? And it's only adjusting that specific color and not everything else. So that's the difference between this versus white balance. When you're doing white balance, it's changing everything. Like, it's warming everything up, cooling everything down, right? Or everything green, everything pink. This one, you can now pick specific colors that you want to tweak. So this one, I'm making the orange just a bit more red. And then that way it doesn't compromise everything else. So I think in terms of shades of red, it's kind of close. So now, if I don't want it as bright, I kind of like it bright, though. But if I don't want it as bright and I want it more muted, you can come into luminance and you can now dull that down. You can say, oh, make the reds not so bright. And then that kinda tones down the brightness of it. So I think that's like a pretty good match. I try not to go too crazy on it because it does change everything, like, if you start going too far, like right now, the skin is mostly unaffected by it, but if I start to go really drastic on it, then it can start, well, here, let me just show you. So if I go really far down, like her lip is starting to change. Her skin actually still looks okay, though. So this one is just saying, like, dial the red all the way down, don't light it up at all. But I'm okay with some of it. So, along the same lines with this color cast that I'm talking about, like when you're, with these color issues, remember, I was saying pick one color? Like, this is an example of what I mean by what happens when you have mixed lighting in the situation. So what we have here is really warm light in the background and then I'm using a flash in the front, right? So it's still an okay image, because what I did is, I didn't let the mixed lighting hit my subject. That mixed lighting is coming from the back. However, if this was turned sideways, and now I'm getting some of that mixed lighting, you know, now I'm gonna have half the dress warm, half the dress cool, right? But you can see, this light is way cooler than that light back there, right? So as long as you can keep, so let's say back here is full of fluorescent lights, right? If I'm standing like this, now you're gonna get half daylight, half fluorescent light. That's gonna be an editing nightmare. If you're in a situation like this and you have to shoot it, I would say, turn this way. And then now, you've cut out that, that light is essentially just in the back, is a backdrop and is not actually affecting the skin tone, right? So that way, it'll help you with adjusting skin tones a lot. So one other solution I did is I added a flash in the back to then now match the color lighting, the color for both situations. So this is another example of that, where the background light is a tungsten light in the back, and then she's lit by kind of window light, kinda, so. So this is what happens when you mix the lighting, right? Because your camera's like, what's the light here, I'm not sure, right? And so usually what happens is, it picks what it thinks is the closest. And if you, like Serene is usually typically really good for this situation. Let me reset this. So, Grain, Highlight Recover. So what I would do in a situation like this is just go for the skin and don't mind the back. Like, let the backdrop be what it is and just, as long as her skin looks good, then I would stick with that. But yeah, and if all else fails, you could just make it look like black and white film because I think black and white film is so pretty. Like, and add like a lot of grit to it, a lot of grain, good Grain Plus, Plus. And then that looks like black and white film. So, I think I just want to get into, oh, let me get into haze, and then we'll move on to editing today's shoot. So... Sothis one is gonna be another example of, I can predict the red is gonna be kinda difficult to work with. So you have the film scan on the left, digital on the right. So let's go with, no, I'm gonna go with Patina. Because I feel like the image here looks really warm. So undo preset, reapply Patina instead. Let's add Grain and then Highlight Recover. What I would also be curious is how Dehaze would work on this one because it was backlit. Where's... Okay, so Dehaze. And then let's warm this up. I feel like I want some of the haze back, though. What do you think? Okay, so this, to me, like the skin is looking pretty good, but like, the dress is like orange now, right? And so, let's try to cool this down just a tad. And then I wanna go into the hue and see. So let's make it less orange and more red. And then probably tone down the red a little bit. You can do Desaturate, as well, but I find that that one just starts to look... Okay, I'm gonna undo the Dehaze. I don't like that one.
Caroline, thank you so much for taking us through all of these. As we head into the shoot from today, I'm wondering if you can, for folks who don't have the presets, like, for example, with the Patina, can you show us or talk through what the preset is actually changing?
That'd be awesome.
The two of them have like very different looks. So like the Patina, it gives it a lot more contrast and a lot more saturation. And that, in the tones that it's going for. And then Pure is, I think it's a little bit more true to color. It doesn't tint the color as much, but I think that's what I kinda like about Patina, is that it gives it that little more filmy look to it. And I think that's what kinda lends itself to that filmy, creamy skin tone, as well.