We are getting closer and closer to the final release. I figured it was time for some fun and maybe even to learn a little something along the way. First up a treat for anyone that cares. How about one of the original Kodak Portra Pro brochures for the NC/VC era of Portra films… Very difficult to find. I downloaded mine a long time ago during the brief time that Kodak acutally made PDF and paper versions. Not my personal favorites as some of the print only versions were far bigger, badder, and prettier with a lot more diversity of shots way way back before any PDF versions.
So for version 1 that I happen to have right click right here and save it off for your review. As an extra added special bonus we have another original PDF version from Kodak right here, a different one. I thought it would be really fun to have a look at these and have them available as a reference guide to what Kodak thinks their own film should look like instead of comparing anecdotal digital simulations, wild manipulations by over aggressive scan operators, or any particular contrast/color balance that a particular person favors.
Please don't send me a million comments that my presets don't instantly make your skin look like this. Of course they won't. No "preset" will. Ever, ever, ever, NEVER. What you are seeing here in mostly a really really good color correction. This is what your WB temp and tint controls are for. After that's done some of my skews should make it look a whole lot like this. In any case WB and exposure and black point + one of the tamer base level presets should get you mostly there.
Here's the other little bit of learning part. I dare you to figure out the difference between NC/VC. Heck Kodak doesn't even show them side by side here. I could argue that the lighting and scene is far more different than the actual NC or VC version chosen. Note the huge words used by some of the photographers in the brochure when discussing the NC vs VC… isn't it better to actually kinda see what those words mean in reality versus some mind's eye self-translation. Reality NC vs VC on any given day meh - a toss up. Hard to tell the difference. If you shot them side by side and you and the scene provoked them just right you might see a noticeable difference once put on paper… Wanna see a bigger difference put NC on poppy-er paper then you would think that it was the VC version.
In any case I just wanted all of you to see this as a reference point for when film was actually printed and that was the standard. Today the standard is a scan and that scan happens to have grown way way more saturated with a lot more mid-tone contrast for pop when shown on a screen now. You will not get results like this unless you specifically ask for a softer version of the scan. Labs today when they scan the pretty much do an levels optimize just as you would with digital (increased contrast) and slap on a pretty steep S-curve (just like digital). Sure it still looks different than digital but with a whole lot of pop and saturation.
My versions of 160NC vs VC vs the 400's are also going to be pretty subtle. In most cases I am exaggerating the differences to some degree for a bit more variety but not wildly. All of the Portra presets are going to look like Portra. I value subtle difference and small increments of change myself so that's what I am packaging up. Most of these are just better organized and more coherent versions of dozens of things I have had laying around for years as baselines to better match my digital to my film results.
On that note all of the base line presets are designed to be pretty flat and have fairly mild shadow rendition. All of the fine tuning color wise, density wise, and contrast wise are up to the user to add using WB, blackpoint, exposure, and the contrast bump add-ons. Think of each one as you go up the scale from normal, to over, to push as the mildest, flattest, least colorful version that should exist. It's not really a baseline for average images, it's more of a baseline for the lowest contrast and least amount of color pop you would want on just about any image that looks anywhere near like it was shot on film. It's up to you to add the additional using the controls way near the top along with the mid-contrast bumps.
The way I work I much rather put what's needed in rather than attempt to take too much out. Especially when it comes to my presets. If you have go to looks based on your taste, how you shoot, what your typical environment, lighting, and subjects are by all means save those combo's off as your own preset. I do.
If I am starting from ground zero I quickly choose a base preset that closely matches up a look that I am going for. Nudge the exposure and black point one way or the other, select the mid-tone contrast level via add-on, color correct for what I want. Lift, reverse selection, stamp. Done. I then go and do any local things like get rid of big giant facial skin flaws, straiten, or crop.
I do plan on putting a more complete set of docs together along with some recipes in the final release. I also have a goal of making all of the film presets respond exactly the same way as described above so that with a little tiny bit of experience you should be able to pick a base and get to exactly where you want to go very quickly and predictable across all of them. I find this much more productive for my own workflow than random hunts for random presets where I have no idea what's going to happen. I hope you do to as I release more of these.
One last note. A couple of people have joined a photostream I am curating to share comments, recipes, and pictures. Might be fun. If you would like an invite just shoot me an email(rwboyer [at] mac.com) with your iCloud associated email address and I will add you to.