Fabulous Film Fridays – January 28, 2011

There are two things I’ve learned about this Fabulous Film Fridays project so far:

1. Processing wintry white scenes shot on Velvia film to look normal in the digital conversion is hard; and

2. Conversely, when the mechanics go awry, it’s nice to have digital tools to salvage a photo!

Let’s deal with the second point first, just to be different.  At the tail end of last year, Darwin and I were out shooting an old car wreck using Linny the Linhoff.  It was a wonderful snowy, moody day.  But something went awry with the film tracking in the Linhoff; it didn’t advance properly and it seems my image of the old car is gone.  Strangely, Darwin’s is intact, lucky dog.  Another image I took that same day of the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff was sort of half double exposed like this:

What the..?

Luckily, I was able to scan the film twice and get all of the foreground in so that I could stitch it together (not all of the foreground is captured in the example above because the negative strip was longer than our film holder for the scanner!)  So here is my salvage attempt:

Which brings me to my first point:  it’s tough to get the whites in the image to be faithful to the film!  On a light table, the film definitely has some magenta in it, but it’s not this purple!  It’s also a bit punchier.  I tried neutralizing the whites in curves and levels but then the sky tends to blow out.  I can make this a bit punchier, but  then I have to rein back the colour.  Even with digital I find snowy scenes can be a challenge when you have a colour cast; starting with such a strong one makes for interesting processing.  I will have to work on this one some more.  Part of what I like about this project is how film looks ‘in person’.  I find it challenging to make a faithful rendition in this case.  Maybe you film shooters who shoot Velvia in winter have some suggestions…?

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~ by Samantha on January 28, 2011.

12 Responses to “Fabulous Film Fridays – January 28, 2011”

  1. […] week Fabulous Film Fridays heads over to Sam’s Rant. Of course, faithful to the title of her blog, there is a wee rant about the conversion of the […]

  2. Hi, Sam:
    I liked the result of the third try.
    “Beginning” always means challenge…

  3. I suggest putting a digital back on your Linhoff… 😉

    • Har har, Adrian! But remember, “Part of what I like about this project is how film looks ‘in person'” How do I get that in the conversion?

  4. Are you asking for a capture or a processing in Photoshop solution. I’m clueless about the first, but with a fairly monochromatic image like the above you can easily (and quickly) isolate the sky, trees and the snowy road into separate layers using your preferred selection method and process each independently. Once you got each layer “matching” what your seeing on the light board, merge the layers–et voilà! I don’t consider retouching to match what you got on film as “cheating” (aka, Photoshop trickery). It’s simply an often necessary step in the process of converting from analog to digital.

  5. Sam, you might try using an Xrite Colorchecker Passport. It works very well for digital but I don’t see any reason you couldn’t also use it for film although you would need to include a picture of the passport on each roll you shoot. I’ve got some links in my blog (http://leshoward.wordpress.com/links/lightroom/) to articles that show how to set it up and use it. I use it in Lightroom but one of the articles also shows how to use it in Photoshop.

  6. Hi Sam,

    Hope you and Darwin are well. Snow is pretty tricky. I usually use a saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the snow and within the same adjustment I will take the brightness slider to the plus side if necessary. The other thing that I try is a color balance adjustment layer if I want to pull the cast one direction or the other. Look forward to seeing the final.

    Jay G.

  7. Hi Sam,

    Velvia achieved it’s popularity when slides were usually looked at on a light table and in camera dupes or originals were sent to editors. Velvia looks awesome on a light table.

    Once scanning and digital printing came into vogue, it was realized the best transparency to use for scanning was low in contrast and low in saturation, the opposite of Velvia. Most people shooting film these days shoot Astia, Provia or Negative film.

    Astia does look awesome though. In the early days of digital there were Digital Velvia photoshop actions around.

    Lon Overacker still shoot a lot of Velvia, you might want to contact him.

  8. Hey everyone!

    Thanks SO MUCH for the suggestions; they’re awesome. I’ll wrangle with this some more and post it when I have something to show.

  9. For what it’s worth. Shoot Tmax 100. It’s high rez stuff and will never leave you with a colorcast. You didn’t need color for that shot anyway. 🙂

  10. […] Sam goes to post the January 31st Fabulous Film Fridays blog using the old car photo and the video as evidence that Darwin is a stealer of images. She […]

  11. Fantastic photo. Korak Portra might also work as less saturated but I have to agree ith post above.. Tmax is good! 🙂

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