Portra 160NC Aperture 3 Preset

So far so good. Just wanted to drop a brief note to all the people that are participating in the Kodak negative film preset for Aperture 3 pre-release. Response has been fairly brisk and I am getting some really good feedback so far. Keep it coming. Based on a few items I've discussed with some of you I thought I would provide a couple points of clarification on what I am looking for as well as the current state of affairs.

First off - the add-ons. Specifically the highlight and shadow toning add-ons. I may implement these differently in the final release but there have been a few comments and questions regarding the use of levels for one and the enhancement block for the other. Cutting to the chase, my intent for the pre-release was to have highlight toning completely divorced from shadow toning which in turn is completely divorced from the base level preset. In simple terms - choose a base then choose either highlight or shadow toning in any combination and switch them around without one affecting the other… Right this second shadow toning is "sticky" between base presets while highlights get's reset.

This arrangement is by design and is somewhat of a mix on purpose. Choose a base then choose either highlight or shadow toning and then choose either different highlight or different shadow without affecting the other. Having one reset and one not. What I am looking for is typical use cases so I can determine the best way to deal with the add-ons as there are consequences (work-flow wise) to using the same control block types for things that are meant to be optional… specifically the ability or lack of ability to quickly and independently choose things without affecting other things already decided. So… please let me know what you guys are using and how often in your workflow. This will help me determine the best way to put the final release together.

What about combos?? Well if you let me know what's popular with you I intend on taking a couple of the more popular looks and putting a little "recipes" goody pack together that combines some of the more popular looks.

Okay on to the next thing - actually two things combined into one. I am getting some reports that the blues need to be toned down even further. These are coincidentally coming from Non-Nikon camera users. This may be the case but I am not entirely sure as I don't do a whole lot of images with strong blue primaries. So keep an eye out and if you are getting a feeling that blues are a little too strong absolutely let me know and example RAW files would help. This is exactly the kind of thing I am looking to hear and see.

Speaking of blues - here is the first thing I ran across that had strong blues which are really not that strong. I shot it for the Window Light Field Guide this past winter. The blues in the two versions toward the right are exactly what I expect the blues. The version on the left is a case where the blues are a bit extreme. Let's take a look at what's going on here. From left to right we have the most extreme to the least extreme versions of the Portra 160NC base presets I consider normal leaving out the pushed variety. They are:

  • Portra 160NC over+
  • Portra 160NC over
  • Portra 160NC plain vanilla

As mentioned the plain vanilla version and the over version are looking as I expect. The over+ is a bit extreme on the blues. Before we all decide that it's too much I want to review what these are. Specifically the over and over+. If we take the base plain vanilla as regular old 160NC exposed well for shadow detail this would translate into a bit over what the side of the box tells you. Over would be somewhere around half of what the side of the box says, like setting your meter to ISO 80 instead of ISO 160, maybe even a bit more of in camera exposure, doesn't really matter as it takes a lot to shift things substantially with real 160NC. If you check out those two side by side what you will/should see is that overall they are about the same contrast level but where that contrast is changes. This is pretty close to what happens with real 160NC as you go liberal with the exposure. A very subtle change in the contrast and color depending on where the tones are in the scale.

You can see it clearly in this image because the blues are a relatively low value they start to pop. It's the very first thing you see. Looking closer at the hair you can also see increased contrast and "better" blacks. This is exactly what happens with liberal exposure on color negative film. Let's look at it from a printing point of view. If you start to dump light into negative film what was down in the shadows start to become rendered in the strait line portion of the film. This is where the film has the most contrast. The lower the value actually is - like black in the deepest crannies of the subject are still going to be "holes" in the film where nothing is rendered with detail. Things that are in the highlights will start to very slightly compress and start to loose contrast, on negative film they won't go "white" or usually they won't go completely flat.

When you print the negatives you have to choose what you want. Typically when using the negative with more exposure you will choose to print with MORE exposure as well to get the the same highlight densities rather than let them go white on the paper. This will make the blacks stronger and the lower valued primaries will start to have much more pop because it's rendered on that "strait line" portion of the film. That's what Portra 160NC over is supposed to look like.

Now let's talk about Portra 160NC over+. This is the same thing just crazy extreme. Let's pretend it's 4 stops of over exposure in the camera. Not unheard of. If we pretend to do the same printing decisions that we just talked about this is one way it would probably look. Now here's the question - Do we want the primaries toned down a bit for this set of circumstances - maybe they should be - maybe they shouldn't. Nobody could tell you for sure because there is no standard here. It boils down to printing and exposure variations at the printing stage among 9000 other factors that are near impossible to reproduce from one scene to the next to any exacting science. The real question is for the 160NC would you people generally like to see more subtle primaries under the extreme over exposed conditions? Up to you - that's why we are doing this pre-release.

Summary - two different "blues" issues - the first being to let me know if you are seeing over the top blues in the first two "normal" base line presets. The second is a general feeling and opinion on primary saturation as a whole for the way over+ preset flavor.

Thanks

RB

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