Thursday, August 21, 2008

Putting the grain back in

When you look closely at a digital photograph you notice that the tonal structure is really smooth, at magnification the image becomes hard to focus your eyes on. I find that this is a negative quality of digital for me, the grain in film based work seems to help your eyes to perceive the three dimensional space that an image is trying to recreate.

It sounds crazy but adding noise to the image actually helps to define shapes and give the image a more robust look.

There are software plugins available that can do this for you or you can also find hi-res scans of film grain available on the net. These scans are of a continuous mid tone gray from a piece of film and give you a fairly authentic looking grain structure on your digital image. To apply paste the grain on as a new layer and then set the layer to overlay mode. Now experiment with the opacity slider to get the result you are after.

To see the results of this you need to print to a really high quality printer and/or fairly large but as always the results are dependant on your imagery and you own personal style.

This is all a bit of a DIY approach and that is the fun of it however if you want to get quick high quality results then Alien Skin Exposure Plugin really delivers on simulating film without the fuss, but it is a piece of software you need to use a fair bit to justify the cost.

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