My grandmother Olga is 93 years old, soon to be 94. She is an amazing woman and one of the most important people in my life. Even though I talk to her on the phone about 3 times a week, I only get to see her 2-3 times a year. Every time I take the drive from Pittsburgh to Norfolk, I promise myself that I will take a ton of photos of her; when I get to Norfolk I get caught up in shuttling my kids between my mom and my dad, doing family things and essentially not taking any photos of my grandmother. This time I actually managed to stick with my intentions and over the last week I shot over a thousand digital frames of my grandmother and 4 rolls of film. About half of the photos below were shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and processed with VSCO presets. The rest were shot on Kodak 400 CN pushed to 800.
About two months ago I received an email from TotallyRad! Inc, a company known for awesome Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets. They asked me to review their new film presets for Adobe Lightroom - presets that allow photographers quickly and easily edit images so that the final product looks as if it were shot on different types of film. I am a huge film photography aficionado - I shot film professionally for many years and even when I switched to digital for all of my commercial work I still shoot a ton of film for personal projects. When VSCO came out with Adobe Lightroom presets about two years ago, I was completely blown away. They did an amazing job of replicating all the wonderful tonal properties of different films and crossing the bridge between digital and analog images.
When TotallyRad! asked me to review their new presets, I was very hesitant - while I generally embrace change, I've been in love with VSCO film presets for so long, I did not want to try another product. A few weeks ago I finally got enough free time to sit down and play with Replichrome presets for a few hours. Let me tell you, they are pretty damn great.
While VSCO offers separate sets of Lightroom presets specifically calibrated for Nikon and Canon cameras, Replichrome presets are split based on commercial film scanners - Noritsu and Frontier.
I edited a single image using most presets by both VSCO and Replichrome. All Replichrome edits were done using Noritsu presets (since I prefer tonal qualities of that particular scanner). Each pair of images has a Replichrome edit at the top and a VSCO edit on the bottom. Even though both companies offer presets for simulating under- and over-exposure, I edited this image using standard exposure setting. The image was straight out of the camera and edited ONLY using the presets.
A few photos from today's trip to Soergel Orchards in Wexford. They brought in an antique fire truck and the kids had a blast climbing all over it for about two hours. I used this trip as an opportunity to shoot a few rolls of film. The ones in this post were shot on Fuji Reala 100.
I admit it. I am a film addict. I got my first camera in 1985 as a present for my 8th birthday and have been shooting ever since. My introduction to photography had one condition – my mom told me that I would get allowance money for film only if I learned to develop and print it on my own. I spent the next couple of years of my life begging, borrowing and, on one special occasion, stealing darkroom equipment and chemicals. By the time I was 11, I had a fully-stocked darkroom and would spend every free moment tinkering with an antique Soviet-made enlarger and inhaling toxic chemicals in a poorly-ventilated closet (which probably explains a lot about the way I turned out).
Around 2005 I made a jump to digital equipment for my commercial work – at the time I did a lot of product photography and burning through 50-60 rolls of film per shoot was just getting too cost-prohibitive.
Even though more than 90% of my work was shot with digital cameras, I never stopped shooting film. I sold my Hasselblads, but kept a few Mamiya 645 cameras, plus about 20 (that’s right, twenty) 35mm film cameras that I accumulated over the years.
For years I have tried to make my digital photographs look like film and have always failed. Commercially available Photoshop actions didn’t quite cut it – the results never looked like what I was used to with film. When I tried to tweak settings on my own, the results were abominable.
A few months ago my friend Jenny Karlsson told me about VSCO Film Lightroom Presets from the Visual Supply Company. At first I was skeptical – over the years I wasted hundreds of dollars on presents and actions that supposedly emulated film. I finally decided to give VSCO a shot. I was blown away. Being true to my geeky self, I ran a few tests. I shot a roll of medium format Fuji 400H, Ilford HP5, Kodak Portra 800 and Kodak T-Max 3200. Then I shot a bunch of digital frames, edited the raw files in Lightroom using corresponding VSCO film presets and compared the results side-by-side. Like I said before, I was blown away. I don’t want to publish a ton of test shots on my blog, but if you are a skeptic, try to tell me which of the photos below were shot with Mamiya 645 + Ilford HP5 and which ones were shot with Canon 5D Mark III and edited with VSCO film: