tutorial: get that tri-x pan look

Started May 19, 2004 | Discussions thread
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Andy Williams
Andy Williams Forum Pro • Posts: 24,506
tutorial: get that tri-x pan look

hello everyone,

i recall fondly the days when i used to develop my own film, and make my own prints in my basement darkroom.... i'd spend hours in there... talk about post-processing! wow. about a month ago, i found a box of old prints that i'd made when i was a kid, and i thought - how cool to create this today, in the digital darkroom! coincidentally, i read two different articles, one in a black & white magazine i subscribe to, and one in a british photo mag that i got at the airport. both covered this technique. so, i didn't invent this, but i sure like it

did you know that your sony (or any digital camera!) can be loaded with kodak tri-x pan fim? hehe you can do it in photoshop! here's how:

first, decide on a suitable image. this effect doesn’t work on every image, so use it judiciously. i originally chose this particular shot because it seemed a bit “edgy” to me.

now we do a b&w conversion. I use layer> new adjustment layer> channel mixer and then choose these values: red – 50%, green 50%, blue 0% and then check the box “monochrome.” the advantage of doing this conversion in an adjustment layer is that if we want to return some of the color selectively later, or change the amount of color that we use in the entire image, it can easily be done by adjusting the opacity or by using the layer mask.

here’s an optional step that you can try. it helps to increase the contrast of the final result, and the only way you’ll perfect it is to try it with different images. reintroduce a bit of the original color by reducing the opacity of this layer (there’s a slider in the layers pallete). i reduced it by 25% in this example.

now, to ensure that the noise / film grain we add will blend in nicely with the photograph, we’ll create a grey layer that will underpin the whole works… layer> new layer> and then use the color picker to get a neutral grey (values of 126 for r, g, b works well). wet the blending mode of this layer to “overlay.”

ok, now, let’s make some noise … duplicate the background layer (ctrl-j) and then choose filter> noise> add noise and use the slider to get the amount you would like. on a full size image the amount could be as much as 100% but it varies so play with the slider. i prefer gaussian noise for most of this work, but you can try uniform, too. always be sure to check the “monochrome” box.

it’s getting there, but it is a little harsh. use filter> blur> gaussian blur to make the noise less sharp. An amount of 1 to 3 pixels should do it, but again, you decide by trying different values.

a final levels adjustment to give the pic a bit of pop and we should be done. choose layer> new adjustment layer> levels and click ok. now drag this layer to the top of your layers palette. click on the levels icon on this layer in the palette and make your levels adjustments to taste.

not happy with the amount of color? want more, or less? no problem, activate the channel mixer layer, and adjust the opacity slider to taste. Want to make selective color? in this image, i originally chose to do this, because of the store’s name. for selective color, simply put the opacity of the channel mixer layer to 100%, and then click on the layer mask icon. now choose an appropriately sized soft edged brush, and make sure black is your foreground color. use the brush to paint over the areas you want the original color to return to. you can reduce the opacity of just the brush, in the brush menu (usually at the top of your screen).

at this point i also chose to do some curves adjustments, with a layer mask, so that i could really get some pop in the image. i also reduced the opacity of the noise layer, just a bit (you do this to taste), and finally i decided only to have selective color on the store's name... and came up with this final result:

now, this may not be to everyone's taste, and certainly it should be used sparingly. i hope you find this information useful!

enjoy (recreating the results of the old darkroom) photography,

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'be a real student and take chances. live on the edge. teeter on the brink...skip on the tightrope. and if you fall, enjoy the wind on your smiling face.' -- paul lester

 Andy Williams's gear list:Andy Williams's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony a9 Sony a7R III Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 70-200 F4 +4 more
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