Film Emulation Presets For Aperture 3

So… I have had more than a couple of chit-chats with people that seem eager to get their hot little (or big) hands on some Aperture 3 presets. Some of that was because I asked. Some of it was shared anti-adobe sentiment, some of it was that I am not the only lunatic out there that thinks VSCO for Aperture three is kinda off the deep end. I swear I am not a big fan of random presets - I am more of the school of just make-um yourself but I am the odd man out I guess. In any case I am now commited to re-arranging some of the mess that I use for myself in Aperture 3, organizing them so that they are at all understandable, and putting them out there for consumption.

I'm sorta a little apprehensive because I am quite possibly one of only 5 or 6 people that somehow think film actually looks great and not all forked up. Honestly I have no idea where the notion came from that film has wonky color, bad blacks, horrible hideous color casts, crazy saturation, all mixed up with crazy graininess. When I shoot film it doesn't look that way - maybe I'm doing it wrong? (Sarcasm).

Whatever the case may be the film-y presets I use for myself in Aperture are mainly a couple of color adjustments, mostly a massive modification to tonal response, and a couple of other very subtle tweaks. No really bad blacks, no grain overlay (never looks right - too resolution dependent and shows up all over which it shouldn't). So be forewarned these will not be instagramy nor will they be a magic bullet of any sort.

Just for a baseline I decided to chuck up an image on twitter to support a conversation I was having of real Portra 160 vs a similar shot I made with digital. Not the best photos for sure but served the discussion.

Here is the Portra 160 shot…

Not bad for obsolete tech. Now Here is the digital.

Here's how I got there. First off remember this screenshot from the other day?

I referred to that as my Kodak-y treatment. What I meant was that I generally modeled it after what I like about the Kodak Portra films in terms of skin rendition and tone curve response.

  • Step one - Applied that particular preset.
  • Step two - matched up the WB a bit better than OOC to the color correction done by the Noritsu auto scanner at the drug store. I used the skin-tone WB tool in Aperture 3 and then modified it a bit with the slider. This is a BIG deal.
  • Overall tone and color were about right but it needed a sort of split-tone color cast added to the shadows and highlights so I did a quick and dirty skew toward green-cyan in the shadows and a skew toward yellow-orange in the highlights while leaving the mids neutral. I probably used the curves tool but may have used the tint wheels just as well.

That's it - my Kodak-y preset plus WB plus a subtle split tone treatment. I typically don't do the split tone thing. I could probably get closer if I spent more than about 2 seconds to shoot it up to twitter but good enough.

I know what you are thinking - hey man the watermelon looks WAY better on the real Portra - ummm yea it does. Different watermelon. The first snap was the real juicy really red part near the center. Leela is queer for watermelon and the only stuff left was the nasty bit close to the rind that doesn't look real appetizing. As you can see she was not pleased.

Moving on. Here's what's in my head in terms of Aperture 3 presets.

  • A kodak-y pro negative film look and a Fuji pro negative film look. Each with a few minor variations.
  • Some optional add ons like various shadow/highlight toning and things like that. Nothing crazy wild.
  • Maybe a reproduction of all the Fuji JPEG looks in terms of tonal response and a flavor of various color treatments in those but I am telling you the blues will never look as bright.
  • Some guidelines for use.
  • Possibly a "really bad blacks" preset if people insist on one. Otherwise I will leave it out.

Let me know what you think.


Ps. For the one person that asked here's a screenshot of the on import RAW without the Kodak-y preset I typically use.

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