*Who the @#$! needs film? Comparing film to film replication software w/ @alienskin

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(*this article was originally written for, and appeared on the Alien Skin blog, by me, HERE.)

Put out your torches, and put down your pitchforks.  I love film.  I shoot film, and have a freezer and fridge full of it from 35mm Kodak Gold and Ilford Delta, to 120 Tri X and Portra 160 NC.  The question I’ve struggled with though, is why?  Why do I still shoot film?  It’s expensive to process, ridiculously tedious to digitize and even with expensive drum scanning, still doesn’t reach the depth and range of modern digital files.  Well, the answer for me has been nostalgia, the feel of the image, and the ability to take a step back, and focus on shooting in a more organic way that coincides with my initial falling in love with photography in the first place.  A beautiful reality though, is that through software, and remarkable sensor technology, we can quickly and easily replicate the look of film if we want, taking care of one of those (my) criteria.

This post is not meant to be any more than a personal experiment in which I’ll look to answer this question for myself when using my go to digital solution when wanting to help analogize results within my digital reality and workflow because, while I may not need film, I sure do love to replicate the look and feel of it.  C’mon in…

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*From the hip. A retouch tutorial, using @alienskin Exposure, October 2015 with Billyburg.

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Hi all!  Welcome to a new, recurring feature on the blog here.  I’m partnering with Alien Skin software to work through the processing of images using their Exposure software.  Alien Skin Exposure is one of the most complete software processing solutions that I use, and I just love it.  With each new release, the functionality and depth become greater and more streamlined.  Exposure X is in its final beta, and should be ready to go very soon.  You can download a free trial of Exposure HERE if you’d like, and follow along with one of your own images as we explore what Exposure has to offer, together.  (if you’re looking for a discount code, you can get 10% off any Alien Skin software using the code “tysonrobichaud” so have at it).

Using images submitted by readers, I will retouch, process and in general, just have fun playing around with them as I might one of my own images, sharing my process step by step along the way.  I’ll be using Exposure X today (which may look a little different compared to the screenshots below, when finalized) to process a submitted image from my friend, Billyburg (see more from him on flickr here).  

Without further ado…

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*Freebie Photography 101, the Exposure Trifecta Part 1 : Aperture

exposure trifecta aperture part 1

Welcome to a new series on the blog, FREEBIE PHOTOGRAPHY 101 where we will explore both technical and artistic aspects of photography and our cameras.  The aim with the Exposure Trifecta (the relationship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO value) is to learn how to better understand and control our exposure manually through examples and exercises to gain a better grasp on some of the seemingly daunting exposure modes and tools involved.  I’ll add articles about metering, exposure compensation, white balance and other often automated, yet powerful to understand settings that our cameras provide us the ability to control as time goes on as well.  It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting with a phone camera or a fifty thousand dollar medium format machine, understanding how an exposure is created, how a camera works while perhaps overwhelming at first, is easy, it really is.  With just a little time and effort, you’ll be understanding the hows and whys of different photographic effects and how to apply them in different situations.

When starting this blog 5 years ago, I did it to help friends and family who were interested in photography, to share techniques, and help answer questions I’d field to better understand basic photographic principals.  The site has grown and evolved into what you see today, chalk full of camera, lens and software reviews, gear-centric comparison pieces, lighting explanations or post processing tutorials, travel ramblings and editorial articles for the design collective I work with.

As is the cyclical nature of life, I’ve recently been having more and more conversations lately with friends and friends of friends who have shown interest in better understanding these powerful image creation tools and I thought it would be a good opportunity to refresh my original Exposure Trifecta article, written over 5 years ago.  Getting back to the roots as it were, and perhaps act as an introduction to some new friends we’ve gathered along the way here on the site.  So, grab your camera and a cup of coffee, we’re gonna have some fun.

If you feel like you could use a refresher, would like to add your input, or know someone just starting out or looking to better understand the Exposure Trifecta of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO sensitivity, come one, come all.  Through my amazing ability to ramble on, and the community we’ve built through this site, we’ll get you sorted and knowing how, and when to adjust these exposure variables to understand how to completely control your photographic vision. C’mon in… Continue reading

*Alien Skin Exposure 6, now available!

P1050201 Alien Skin is a company focused on producing very high end and useful software plugins.  Two of my favorites from Alien Skin have always been Exposure for the remarkable film emulation filters, and Bokeh for the focus control.  Now, Alien Skin has chosen to merge both of these into one super plugin in Exposure 6. Continue reading

*Canon EF 55mm f/1.2?

Canon EF 55mm f/1.2

Nope, not a typo.  I have, in my possession a Canon 55mm f/1.2 lens with an EF mount.  How?  Well, many of you may know of Ed Mica, an engineer with a passion for photographic lenses, and lens mounts more specifically.  He has worked to provide many mount conversion kits for older FD lenses, converting them to a more modern EF mount and while Ed has had a conversion mount for the FL 55mm f/1.2, I’d been waiting for an FD 55mm f/1.2 SSC conversion since I’d first heard about Ed’s products a couple years back.  Now, he has a conversion mount for many different FD, FL and FDn lenses including my lovely 55mm.  Not only do I now have an ultra fast semi-standard lens for my full frame Canon cameras, I also need to keep one less micro 4/3 adapter around which turns this lens into a 110mm equivalent lens capable of absorbing light in the near darkness for both formats…  Examples and test shots on the other side…

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*Alien Skin Exposure 5, the best keeps getting better.

Exposure 5

There are quite a few film emulation plugins to choose from.  Looking at the sheer multitude of cross processed filters or “film” replications on offer from different plugins can be daunting.  To me, the difference is in the details, and none does a better job in my opinion than Alien Skin’s Exposure has.  When choosing a plugin, the biggest and most important features lie mainly in interface, tools available and when discussing a film replication, the actual grain structure and implementation is key.  Like past Exposure releases, Exposure 5 gives you a full library of Black and White as well as Color film filters.  Many plugins emulate a similar result, but none has paid as much attention to detail, grain reproduction and fidelity as Alien Skin Exposure 5 has, to my eye.  With Exposure 5, the new release adds a new user interface and some sweet new controls.  Read on for some of the details…

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*How do aperture and focal length affect the DOF or exposure on different sized sensors?

Okay, much like the “effective focal length” discussions, there seem to be many “effective aperture” discussions going around as many of these mirrorless interchangeable lens compact system cameras begin to really round out their lens offerings.  Well, I guess the micro 4/3 system has while the Samsung NX is getting there and Sony NEX system users still have a small handful of options, but not really here nor there.  The fact that so many lenses can be adapted across various formats can complicate the discussion.  Along with those who shoot with APS-C DSLR cameras, all references for focal length and depth of field seem to fall back to a full frame/35mm sized sensor as the benchmark.  There are some misconceptions as to how the aperture, or focal length affects the exposure or depth of field in these varying formats.

C’mon in, we’ll straighten this all out.

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