Simulating color films with curves

Started Jan 28, 2007 | Discussions
Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Simulating color films with curves

Greetings --

I've recently been trying to experiment with simulating various "film-like" looks in Photoshop. I've found pretty complex actions for Velvia and Provia looks, as well as trying the Alien Skin "Exposure" plug-in; however, I've found them pretty cumbersome.

I'm not trying to go for scientifically exact; in any case the results would depend a great deal on the original. I'm more interested in recreating the "feel" of the films in question. I was wondering if there are people here who have done similar stuff and would like to compare notes?

I'm working on three "looks" -- Velviaesque, Proviaesque, and NPSesque. In addition I've been frotzing around with some special effects, like "faded color neg" and "cross-process" (found a quite a lot of help on the Net for the last one.)

Here's where I've gotten so far:

Straight conversion:

NPSesque:

Proviaesque:

Velviaesque:

Faded neg:

Another example:
Straight conversion:

NPSesque:

Proviaesque:

Velviaesque:

Faded neg:

A few used "in anger:"
Velviaesque:

Proviaesque:

NPSesque:

Yes, I'm a fan of Fuji films.

The curves in question are here:

[ http://www.prime-junta.net/dropbox/velviaesque.acv ]
[ http://www.prime-junta.net/dropbox/proviaesque.acv ]
[ http://www.prime-junta.net/dropbox/npsesque.acv ]
[ http://www.prime-junta.net/dropbox/fadedneg.acv ]

I would much appreciate feedback, suggestions for improvements, variants, and so on.

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
Olaf.dk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,332
Velvia effect...

Looks pretty good to me... Thanks for sharing!

The Velvia effect that I know, doesn't use curves, but rather the channel-mixer. Perhaps you already know of it? - but here it goes:

Red Channel:
Red: +120%
Green: -10%
Blue: -10%

Green Channel:
Red: -10%
Green: +120%
Blue: -10%

Blue Channel:
Red: -10%
Green: -10%
Blue: +120%

Sometimes I use +140% and -20% instead, and then adjust the opacity of the adjustment layer to my liking. Doesn't seem to do much else than increase saturation though.

-- hide signature --

Olaf

'Error is a portal to new discovery'

OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Re: Velvia effect...

Nope, I hadn't come across that one. I'll have to try it... but it looks a bit suspicious; Velvia is known for its OTT greens, and that treats all of the channels the same way.

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
Makinations
Makinations Veteran Member • Posts: 5,688
Re: Simulating color films with curves

Interesting. I'll have to try these when I have a chance. (Most of the velvia actions are too over the top for me. These look pretty good.)

 Makinations's gear list:Makinations's gear list
Canon PowerShot G9 Olympus XZ-1 Canon EOS 40D Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 Olympus OM-D E-M5 +13 more
OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Tried it...

...and no, it's not what I'm looking for -- indeed, all it appears to do is boost saturation. It doesn't actually do anything to the tone curve, nor does it give anything resembling the insanely rich greens of Velvia. Honestly, I can't say I'm terribly impressed.

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
workatron Regular Member • Posts: 185
Re: Simulating color films with curves

wow those are some great colours, the first one is something i've been looking for for a while actually.

Im having problems downloading the curves though, everytime i click on your links it just opens up a browser window and nothing happens.

can you help?

OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Re: Simulating color films with curves

Try right-clicking and selecting "Save link as..." (or whatever is the functional equivalent in the browser you're using.)

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
Olaf.dk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,332
agree

Petteri Sulonen wrote:

all it appears
to do is boost saturation.

Yup, that's what I thought too... I think I saw it in Popular Photography once - dubbed the Velvia-effect. Your curves adjustment does look more like Velvia and higher contrast (esp. in the darker tones) brings out a slide-quality.

-- hide signature --

Olaf

'Error is a portal to new discovery'

johncoll Regular Member • Posts: 293
Re: Simulating color films with curves

Tried that. The link saves as an html file which opens to an empty screen.

John

Olaf.dk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,332
Velviaesque skies too cyan

Petteri Sulonen wrote:

I would much appreciate feedback, suggestions for improvements,
variants, and so on.

I been trying out the Velviaesque cuves and find them to turn my beautiful blue skies into less impressive cyanish skies... The curves approach seems to alter all colors and that's not what Velvia does in the film world, well maybe with the exception of increasing saturation across the board. Perhaps using selective color would allow for better fine-tuning of the various color-aspects of different films?
--
Olaf

'Error is a portal to new discovery'

OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Re: Simulating color films with curves

Strange. I just tried it, and it worked for me. I'm using Firefox 2.0.0.1.

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Re: Velviaesque skies too cyan

I boosted contrast in the greens more than in the blues, to shift greens towards the "emerald" hues I see in Velvia. The skies shifted greenwards with it. Care to try to tweak it so that the skies would stay under control more but the deep greens would still go green? I'll give it a shot too.

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
OK, try this one on for size...

I tweaked the blue and green contrast curves a bit to keep the blues under control better while letting the greens still go quite nuts. Better or worse?

[ http://www.prime-junta.net/dropbox/velviaesque2.acv ]

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
Olaf.dk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,332
You've got mail (nt)

Petteri Sulonen wrote:

Care to try to tweak it so that the
skies would stay under control more but the deep greens would still
go green?

-- hide signature --

Olaf

'Error is a portal to new discovery'

Olaf.dk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,332
Re: OK, try this one on for size...

Velviaesque2 is getting better in the skies, but still a bit too much contrast, which brightens the blue of the sky too much, imho. I altered the RGB-curve on your Velviaesque2 and to me it looks better. As I don't have a place to upload files other than images I've emailed you: Velviaesque2_olaf.acv
--
Olaf

'Error is a portal to new discovery'

johncoll Regular Member • Posts: 293
Got the curves

Somehow "save target as" saved the curves with an .htm extension. After changing them to the appropriate .acv extension, they "came alive".

Thanks,
John

OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Thanks...

I've tried it on a few pictures, and the effect really depends a lot on what your starting point is. My PnS shots start out pretty contrasty and saturated, and it certainly blows them way over the top; OTOH if I make a fairly low-contrast conversion of a dSLR frame, it works pretty well out of the box. I find that using it in an adjustment layer and turning down the opacity works pretty well -- I did these that way, for example:

(The sky was a touch cyan on this to start with:)

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
OP Petteri Sulonen Forum Pro • Posts: 24,585
Comments on your versions...

First off, the selective color version doesn't do anything for me -- it just boost saturation selectively, while IMO the "look" of Velvia (and any film stock, for that matter) comes from the tone curves -- which includes contrast and color. Perhaps if you combined it with an S-curve...?

Second, your version of the Velvia curve, with an inverted S RGB curve does tone it down nicely; it no longer looks over-the-top out of the box. However, I found that I still preferred my version when I just turned down the opacity of the curves layer.

I made a third version of the Velvia curve, this time with a slightly less contrasty RGB curve, although not quite as much as yours. Wanna try? Again, turn down the opacity if the effect is too strong.

[ http://www.prime-junta.net/dropbox/velviaesque3.acv ]

Petteri
--
http://www.prime-junta.net/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/primejunta/

 Petteri Sulonen's gear list:Petteri Sulonen's gear list
Fujifilm X100S
Zarathustra Senior Member • Posts: 1,797
Another approach using curves...

If you still have those films rolls, another method is to use them as a templates.
This method is similar to how color calibration does its trick.

1. Basically, you shoot a Macbetch or Kodak color chart with the camera/film you want to emulate. (Taget)

2. Shoot the same chart again with your digital camera, keeping the same exact lighting and exposure, etc. (Source)

3. With a photoediting program get the RGB values with the eyedropper of color patches on your target shot.

4. In photoediting program go to the RGB Curves panel and adjust the curves to bring the source colors to match your target. Do this by separates RGB curves.

5. After several samples, you'll get the shape of the curve that will emulate Velvia, Provia and what have you.

Save that curve as a file and later is just a matter of applying those to the pictures you want to look that way.

The problem with this approach is that the variables are too much to keep consistent results as you mention, but at least is the most exact method I know.

You can also do the target/source templates with real world shots, but is hard to get solid patches of colors. In these case downsampling to small size helps.

I've always wanted to try this but I'm very limited since I don't have a Film camera.

But I have tried with samples of Macbeth chart to make cheap Digicams to emulate expensive DSLRs.

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads