Thursday, December 4, 2014

Edit Digital to Look Like Film

Here's a quick video tutorial where I edited an image I took to look as close to Film as I could get. The thing about film & trying to emulate it is that it's hard. Lol. That's all. Watching this will give you an idea of my process & why I moved a few of the settings but ultimately you'll use some of this as a guide but depending on what camera you shot on, whether you shot in Raw or Jpeg, what lens you used & what colors are in the image etc etc etc, it will be different.

In this case I took the image as the sun was going down, we were running late getting to the location, my lights weren't firing because the triggers...well, they love to do that to me when I'm in a hurry & also everything else that could go wrong did. No big deal. I had talked my friend into coming all the way to Guadalajara to shoot in the first place, spent money on the dress & a ticket to get there & like 10 other things lol.

In a perfect world, I had planned on using my light with some warm gels to mock the sun setting behind her & then bounce that same light coming from behind her, off a white reflector in front of her to brighten her face. But anyways, the end result was ok & everything is a learning experience!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chic Critique Magazine Cover

We had so much fun shooting this for Chic Critiques (click the name to check out their site) contest & almost killed a couple bikers in the process with our scattered gear but no one did crash & anyways beauty is pain right? Taking inspiration from Ralph Laurens classic & romantic style & blending it with Chic Magazine's more feminine & softer vibe along with the fact that it's a Fall issue & their theme was couture, we set off.  I knew I wanted darker lips to tie in the deep reds you see during Fall & a black dress to lend a nod to a more couture darker vibe & that it had to balance being a little more fierce with still being soft. Nalina Belefonte & I have some big Fashion projects coming up so it was also the perfect opportunity to go out & get used to one another. There were so many good ones from this shoot making it impossible to narrow it down to one for a submission but somehow I managed. For now I included one more shot below just for show & Ill post the rest later next week as I find time to finish the editing. So check back if you want to see more from this shoot.

In other news Im going to start shooting a lot more Fashion, have some awesome projects coming up I can't wait to share! This last year was a lot of commercial Photography & Weddings & not enough Fashion which got me thinking that it was un-acceptable. Ill allow myself to shoot other things but only if I leave room for what makes my heart sing. Glossy magazine covers & vogue editorials were my inspiration all those years ago for buying my first camera, my little Rebel. RIP little guy. Not sure what happened to that camera but it prompted me to get a 7D & later a Mark III & now Im working to learn Film, so needless to say lots of new adventures started from there.  

Also on a side note I've been working on creating some fun tutorials with my girlfriends which will be know as The Pinterest Housewives...we will put our little aprons on, drink some wine & burn food in the kitchen as well as test makeup tutorials & whatever else catches our fancy. Prompted by the constant irritation I feel after being duped by beautiful imagery of food on Pinterest that hardly ever tastes as good as it looks or by me wanting to try to get a little more creative with makeup by watching tutorials which never looks as good on my face as it does on the hot girl doing the tutorial. 

Anyways, I don't spend enough time with friends these days & so a little wine & some good times, why not? And might as well bring you guys along on the adventures. If you want to see the videos check out the channel here. We will begin posting end of Sept. 

Here's the image I shot for the cover with some text on there....had to make sure it would line up right & Im thinking that looks pretty rockstar what about you:
And a little teaser of what the rest of the shoot looks like. Gorgeous gorgeous. I want her stunning looks & captivating eyes, she is too much. Seriously though god, you went a little extra on her :  )

Monday, August 11, 2014

Beach Maternity Shoot

Rosa is one of those girls that you just envy. Thinking back to once upon a time when I was seems so long ago but the lovely memory of my angry bloated self is still so very visible. Think Godzilla, but if Godzilla craved chocolate milkshakes not humans. Pregnancy glow is something I thought must have been a big lie to get us to continue to procreate until I seen Rosa. We were sitting chatting for a good 45 min when she mentioned being glad to almost have the baby & I had a "Whhahhh?" moment & then laughed as I looked down. I told her she was a bad liar she was clearly only 5 or 6 months pregnant. "No" she really was going to have a baby in less then a month she said. Well it was clear to me that the pregnancy glow must be true & it would have to be documented to give other future moms hope that they too could look so good if they are lucky. Rosa's husband needs to be mentioned too while we are at it. Humble, honest & good natured guys are hard to find but they too exist ladies. Dont give up on the hunt, stay strong. Felipe is a total sweetheart & they are the cutest couple. Im pretty sure their baby is going to come out ready for the runway with the way both of these guys look. Congrats to two beautiful people & their joy to come.  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

VSCO vs Replichrome Film Presets

Edited with VSCO Fuji 400h

I remember a year ago creating a post in the forum asking if anyone had any insights into blending film & digital imagery. I got laughed at not surprisingly. A lot of by-the-bookers telling me if I wanted film so bad I should pick up a film camera. And there's truth to that. But if you had just bought a $3500 camera....throwing it to the wind to go buy a film camera didn't seem viable. You can read my post here about shooting & editing to get as close to film with your digital as possible (read mine here). Or watch a video of me editing an image with this same advice here.

Im sure I arrived on this 'Film' quest about the same time 1000 other photographers did which is after I got done drooling over Jose & Elizabeth books. It was like being re-born as a photographer. I know as I write this now how un-original this post really is only a year seems everyones weighing in on it now. But for good reason. And just as many posts as there are, there are opinions, so I suppose no harm in another perspective.

Film is great for a lot of things but as I primarily shoot Weddings I have sat endless hours at my computer afterwards afraid to let go of the editing but tired of doing it at the same time. It was a black hole & an endless cycle. Thats when I realized that film could save me so much time & although its more expensive, my time is valuable too. I figure the time shooting film saves you pays you back triple-fold at minimum. And then theres the new possibilities it unleashes because you no longer have to balance harsh sunlight with a strobe or hide under a tree during Weddings. Now you can go boldly go where no digital has dared before...into the brightest sun & onward. 

First off I want to say that VSCO really is the pioneer in this quest. A lot of other presets have sinced sprouted up including the main headliners Replichrome & Mastin, I created my own as well to suit my taste (found here). But VSCO really got the ball rolling & they did a thorough job while they were at it. Overcomplicated, perhaps, but if you really were a film lover looking for true results they wanted to deliver & did so by acknowledging that depending on what you shoot the presets would vary so they included a set customized to Nikon, Canon & the last set they call Standard for all other shooters. Replichrome took it a step further to compete with them by offering different presets according to the scanner type the film would have been scanned into.
Edited with VSCO Fuji 400h

So without further ado Ill summarize what I took away from this comparison. First & foremost I believe VSCO to be the most correct of the sets. But the problem is when we are looking at all these comparisons online is you first have to ask yourself if your looking for results like other film photographers or true film colors. Typically people are after Jose & other popular film shooters looks & thats not necessarily what youll get even if you go shoot film. They have color profiles set up at the lab & overexpose to get what they get. So being after that you'll have to look at presets differently & expect to tweak them because as of right now no one makes a Jose Villa Fuji 400h preset they make a out of your camera, Fuji 400h preset. Next is the fact that there's tons of variables when people make these comparisons. First & formost being what did they shoot on & how did they shoot the  images because you & me could both click the same preset on a picture we took on the same day with different cameras & settings & the preset will look two different ways. Lastly is that there is over 10 Fuji 4ooh presets in replichrome, 2 in Mastin & 3 with VSCO, so which one are people clicking each time?

With all that said on this comparison I did adjust the blacks for the sunny backlit images but I adjusted the same for each to make it fair. I made sure the images were correctly white balanced before I clicked the presets as well since applying these to blue cast or overly yellow images would not give the correct results. Last, Ill admit that for the different images I sometimes liked Mastin, then VSCO was better, then my own etc etc. So good luck! You might be best off just investing in a few. Ill shamelessly tell you mines only $10 so start there. *Wink. But if you like film VSCO & Mastin are worth having for different reasons.

Notes about each:

VSCO: Has presets sets called Nikon, Canon & for all other shooters there's a pack called Standard. It also has a set called Tooklit for tweaking the presets like getting creamy highlights or lifting shadows.

PROS:  Has one of the closest results for that beautiful film color & the B&W presets rock.
CONS: Vsco for my taste, usually needs lots of tweaking after applying the presets. I usually bring down the is too grain, adjust the green cast in the shadows & mess with the contrast to get it right.

REPLICHROME: Has presets packs for Fuji, Kodak, Black & whites & a Tweak kit.

PROS: Has a lot more usable presets with one click. Beginner friendly.
CONS: Tends to run a little pink on the overall tones from the presets & I usually have to adjust the red channel down out of the highlights to reduce this.  Doesn't look as close to true film as VSCO.

MASTIN LABS: A Canon & Nikon pack of presets that has Fuji 400h neutral & blue with some highlight, shadow & grain tweaks.

PROS: Really simple & good results with the presets
CONS: Doesn't have a Portra preset

I like VSCO best overall. Of course I like the customized preset I made for my workflow as well but its just a little Fuji 400h one & I still like to play with all the other presets VSCO offers in the set including Portra 400 & TRI-X 400 for B&W conversions.  Its a bit spendy but worth checking out if your into the film look.

Now for some pictures using the different presets. Can you tell which is which?

*Mine, Mastin, VSCO, Replichrome

Friday, July 11, 2014

Natural Light Newborn Photography

Heres the images from my recent shoot with my little niece Naomi. She is the cutest & I can't wait to watch her grow up into an amazing woman. Love capturing these fleeting moments so our family can cherish them forever. Hugs & kisses to my little muffin.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Free High-res Cloud & City Wallpaper of Tri-Cities

I've been driving to Pendleton a lot lately to visit my friend & fellow creative Dawn & I always see the prettiest sunsets of the Tri-cities on the way back home. Mostly I just enjoy the view for myself because my camera isn't nearby & because I don't want my tombstone to read, "got creamed by a semi truck on the side of the highway trying to capture a sunset", but today I was feeling lucky & my camera was sitting on my passenger seat so I really had no excuse. I tried snapping a few out my window without stopping & I looked pretty crazy so when that didn't work I gave up & pulled over to get this. I was shooting with a 50mm so this is a cropped in picture to get closer to the good stuff & not have the road in the foreground. 

& I'm not even gonna lie I totally added in the fog because sometimes its fun to play with pictures but those stars are totally real...its this crazy miracle that happens only once every million maybe I put those there too. I hardly ever edit landscape or fantasy type pictures though anymore, so felt like having some fun with this one & since its not for national geographic what the hell. You can download it for free but you have to shamelessly promote my business name first.

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 Ways to Emulate Film with Digital Photography

Once upon a time...about 1 year ago I was in search of how to get my digital images to look more like film. Film was popping up everywhere & it looked amazing. I loved the versatility & magical quality of it. I was tempted to go buy a film camera but I'd just invested $3400 on a Canon Mark III & I knew buying another $3500+ camera might entice my husband to murder me & make me the star of an episode of 'Snapped'.

So before you decide to listen to my advice heres a few images I shot following my own advice. If you like the way these look, then read on. Or if your too lazy or busy to read all that text below watch me edit a really muddy looking digital picture into sunny perfection here

Why Film Kicks Ass:

Due to films wide dynamic range, you have the ability to shoot in broad daylight & still get amazing images that sacrifice neither highlights nor shadows. You can have your cake & eat it too (& then there should even still be enough left to throw at someone). With film you just expose for the shadows & unlike digital where your highlights would be bright spots of yellowed nothing, you'll get these dreamy beautiful highlights instead. The full wonder of this is easily understood by considering a typical wedding or really...almost every wedding you'll ever shoot if you're the average photographer shooting real weddings. There are so many times as a Wedding Photographer, when you have to shoot in the middle of the day due to time restrictions.

Think about outdoor ceremonies which never fail to have the bride & groom in the shade & everyone else out in the sun. So you're left deciding if you want to sacrifice the shadows or the highlights because they only other option is to stick a giant strobe out there to balance the shadows to the sunlight. The downfall to this being that a strobe going off throughout the ceremony might leave guests feeling like they're in the middle of an alien abduction....aka...constant flashes of bright light & the fact that'd it'd be beyond distracting.

Here's a great example of a wedding I shot where the bride & groom are going to end up in the shadows & everyone else including a few people in the bridal party are going to be in the sun

With film this could be an amazing image! That little black hole where the bride & groom will be would look perfect & the guests would like like dreamy little angels out in the sun.

When trying to make digital emulate film I think an important disclosure is that nothing is going to be exact so don't expect that but you can get it really close...close enough people will wonder. Here's just a few things we will cover to get you headed in the right direction:

1. Using film emulating presets
2. Camera calibration & tone curve Settings
3. Changing your settings in camera
4. Shooting with gear that gives you more film like results
5. Hacking your camera with Dual ISO

1. Using Film Emulating Presets

Another great thing beyond the dynamic range of film is the color. When you have a few hundred images from a wedding to turn around, not having to edit every single image for basic color is huge. There are two major film types you will see everyone shooting & trying to emulate, which is Portra 400 & Fuji 400H. With these films the colors are different in comparison to digital. Skin tones are more of a yellow/orange (versus a red/orange in digital) & greens are more blue based (rather than a yellow in digital) which I find looks much nicer. And if you'd like to see comparison of VSCO & Replichrome presets click here to read my other post.

So the first way you can achieve these color differences in digital photography is using Presets. There's plenty of different versions of film presets out there now but the two I recommend trying are Replichrome & VSCO. When using presets its important to note that you wont get the best results unless you start with a correct exposure & white balance. I also recommend using the presets on RAW files & not Jpegs.

2. Tone Curve & Camera Calibration Settings

I suggest making these changes in camera raw because your getting as close as you can to altering the photo as if it were still in the camera but you can also do this in Lightroom. With the edits, one of the main things about film is the push towards brightness without sacrificing all the detail so you'll want to start there.

You can do this by brightening the exposure & then bringing the highlights slider back to make sure you aren't losing all your detail in the brighter areas. You have two areas that do highlights but start with the first slider (basics panel) which is more accurate. Make sure not to over-brighten your image & take into account if your monitor has the brightness turned up or down (calibrating it is the best way around this issue) because that can really alter the way everyone else see's your image.

Secondly take the shadows slider (basics panel) & lift your shadows then lower the contrast with the contrast slider. Now use the blacks slider or the darks (tone curve) to bring some life back to the image so it doesn't look flat.

Now that you have the basic feel of a film image you need to get the colors where they should be. To do this you can edit either the tone curve red, green & blue channels or use camera calibration. For tone curve you will click on the little icon in the bottom right of that panel area, see the image for example:

Next click channel & change from RGB to the different channels & adjust them to match the color tones of film. Now maybe this is overwhelming & most likely what will happen is you'll find something you like but it wont be anything like film. This is not an easy step & you have to be able to see colors in the highlights & lowlights & know that combinations of colors will = whatever result. So if this is too difficult don't worry, save whatever cool thing you came up with as a new crazy preset & enjoy it & let's move on to the next method. 

The other easier method but not as correct is camera calibration which is the last section in your tool panel.  Here you can move the slider left & right to adjust the overall colors in your picture. Red looks good moved to the right & will give skin tones more yellow & less red tonts.  Greens looks good moved to the right a little to put more blues in the greens like in film. You can adjust the saturation down or up as needed as well.

You will find that moving one slider will make you need to adjust the others to compensate & find balance again. Play around with them & find something you like. I could go into detail about how much or little to move these but the best thing you can do is compare it to a film image you took the same day or find one online that has a similar light & color palette to yours & work your colors to match. You will also want to adjust the white balance & use your HSL & Color panel as backup for adjusting the color hues & saturation if camera calibration doesn't get you exactly where you want to be.

Now that you did all that, you need to frost the cake as I say. You got a good thing going, but it needs the final polish. To really hone in on the film look adjust three final things. The first is the grain amount, which you'll find in the effects panel. Film has grain so having no grain means your picy no looky like da film. Play around with it & make sure your zoomed in to about 50-75% so you get a good grasp of the amount your adding. Second, lower the clarity in the basics panel which softens everything by lessening the contrast. Then take the adjustment brush & paint clarity & sharpness back to any important details like faces & eyes if you want.

3. Get it Right in Camera

Highlight Priority Mode:
Start by setting your (Canon) camera to Highlight Priority Mode which is a setting in your camera menu (If you have an entry level or older Dslr you might not have this). This setting helps retain detail in the highlights of your image which consequently allows you to shoot a little brighter exposures without blowing things out. This setting also adds noise to the shadows but film has grain so I think this just adds to it.

The next obvious setting is your exposure. Don't obliterate all detail by overexposing all of your images but do bump it up.You can set your blown highlight warning (located in your camera menu) to flash or use the histogram on your camera to make sure you don't over do it.

Shoot Raw:
Another setting to use is to shoot in RAW. This is important because you'll be editing the images in post to get the film look & doing this in RAW, as stated above, let's you adjust the settings almost as good as if you did it in camera.

Lastly, play around with the style setting. You can either set it to 'Faithful' which puts the contrast, saturation, sharpness & color tone to 0, or do what I prefer which is to to bring down the saturation & contrast one notch...find what works for you based on what look your trying to achieve.

4. Shoot Right

Choose the Right Lens:
Start with a good lens. Some lenses as you may have noticed, give you different amounts of contrast, colors, compression etc. Put every lens you own on your camera & take the same picture. Now compare the images on your computer. What lens gives you a better film look? For me the answer is both longer & prime lens's. Longer lens's compress the background & make the subject really stand out giving the image more dimension like film. A 100mm or 85mm would fit that description. I use an 85mm & shoot at wider apertures of 2.8 & below often for this reason.

*Also worth noting, is that most of the film images you see are shot at 85mm, so using the same focal length helps mimic the feel.

Find Good Light:
Next, shoot in good light. Open shade, window light, any softer light is great. Film has great light so if your taking a ton of pictures in terrible light your only making it harder for yourself because its one more thing you have to fix & it's the hardest thing. Harsher light is harder to make look like film because you'll have the shadows & blown highlight thing to fix that we talked about above. It can be done but it's just easier not to go there in my opinion. In situations like a wedding where you have no choice but to shoot in crappy light because of candids or where things are setup, then that just is what it is.

Use Fill Light:
Make sure to use a reflector or fill light if you can too. This will give you another layer of good light, filling in shadows & bringing attention to whatever it is your shooting, adding another layer of dimension. The white part of your reflector will give you a softer fill like film but you can also use bounced natural light from a large source or use your flash turned all the way down & heavily diffused.

Lastly some colors just photograph nicer & will give you the softer look you see in film. You'll notice a lot of pale colors like pinks & blues, metallic's, creams & blacks because they photograph so nicely.

5. Hack it Up

The D800 from Nikon, is rated as having better dynamic range so if you have one of those you're already ahead of me & other's with a Mark III. If you don't have a Nikon D800 but you want a comparable dynamic range then you can hack your camera. Magic Lantern came up with Dual ISO which allows you to tap into a better dynamic range by sampling half of the sensor at ISO 100 & half the sensor at a higher ISO giving you closer to 14 stops. I'll be honest though, I'm not sure how I feel about it. There's extra steps you have to take to process the images & I think you sacrifice quality in doing this & then there's the fact that you're tinkering with such an expensive camera which kinda scares me. Maybe Ill dare to try it in the future, but you can see for yourself in the meantime by watching this video I found which shows what you'd normally get with a Raw SOOC image versus the Dual ISO image & then research the pros & cons more for yourself & decide:

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