Skip to main content

Of Gimps and Curves

Of all the photos in my recent Manually Autumn post, the picture of my garden gate garnered most praise. In part it was for the subject matter and composition, and in part for the beautiful colours and dynamic range of the film.

Shooting digital means you lose some things that film gives you. First and foremost, you lose the large upfront costs and processing costs. So that's a plus. But you lose out in other areas. Film has a wider dynamic range than almost any digital camera, so where a dSLR would have blown out highlights, film will fill it in with subtle detail. Film also has properties unique to each formulation. I used Fuji Superia film, which has a slightly green, almost ethereal feel to it in the right conditions.

It got me to wondering if I could replicate the feel of the film using a curves preset in my image editor of choice, The Gimp. Of course, if I ever got round to acquiring photoshop, it would probably work there too. I went out and took a picture of my garden gate with, roughly, the same composition. I say roughly because, frankly, I did a terrible job of it. But it'll do for the purposes of this experiment.


As you can see, it's slightly skewed to one side. I'll fix that later, but it does mean some of the bottom will be cut off.

After much experimentation, the curves look like this:


 Save this as a preset, and let's check the results against the original.

Original (Zenit-E, 58mm f2) Digital (Fuji S1 Pro, 50mm f1.8)

Not bad at all! There are very slight colour variations due to the different weather conditions, and the fact that the leaves are browner. Also, it hadn't been raining when I took the second picture, so the ground in front of the gate appears lighter. The digital version does appear to be a little brighter, a little sharper, and with a little less contrast at the bottom end. Still, pretty darn close.

Next task is to take two identical pictures using both cameras, apply the saved curves to the digital version, and see how close the film version is once it is developed.

While I was at it, I also saved a slightly modified set of curves that enhances the red and green. I call it "Warm Autumn" and it lends a subtly different feel to the image.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Another canal walk

The sun has started being a little more present lately, so some mornings are actually quite pleasant. On one such morning I decided to have a wander up the canal.


The clouds made everything look a bit Toy Story, and the low sun gave a lovely light and contrast to everything else.


Of course, it wasn't sunny everywhere. But even in the darker places, such as right underneath Leeds railway station, the sun had a go at peeking in.


Shooting the Enterprise

I was recently asked if I could help out providing an image for a magazine article about stress management. For reasons as yet undiscovered the requested image would be of the USS Enterprise flying through a storm in space. Unfortunately I didn't have a lot of time (just a couple of hours), but I did have a very nice model of the Enterprise D I could use to build the image around.

Thinking fast, I rigged up a rather slapdash rig consisting of a black reflector backdrop, an umbrella and stand from which dangled the model by a thread, and a couple of strobes. One light above, diffused, to provide the key light, and another, reflected and lower power, to fill some of the very dark shadows. It ended up all looking something like this:


Using a fast shutter, f/16 and cunning flash positioning I managed to keep the background black and give the model suitably textured lighting so it didn't have that flat, uniform, shadowless appearance of, well, a model. The narrow aperture obviously…

Leeds Hyperbeastly

It's been five long months since I posted anything to this blog. Including this post here, I have posted no less than three times in 2014. As you can tell, I am nothing if not prolific.
A lot has changed since the last time I posted anything. I sold all my SLR gear, for a start, and switched to micro four-thirds. I got a lovely, lovely little Olympus OM-D E-M10 and a small selection of lenses including the must-have Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake and the stunning Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Marvellous, and the camera, four lenses and spare batteries and SD cards in a bag that wouldn't fit the SLR and a single lens. Cracking stuff, because it's now small enough to carry all the time. In fact the body and pancake lens is barely bigger than my Fuji X10 compact!
Anyway, the point of this post; I've taken several walks through Leeds while I've worked there over the past few years and I've been finding it more and more difficult to find non-boring subjects. Everything is so dr…