I know, it’s a slightly bizarre thing to have all the techno-wizardry of digital cameras and craving noise free, pixel-perfect images, only to think… “you know what, that would look great if I added some grain…for that cool film look.” Indeed, in a world of freakily over-exposed HDR images and imaginary water, mist and goodness know’s what else effects that creep into modern photography, you do sometimes look at digital images and think they’re just too darn clean.
Hence the explosion of iPhone apps that mimic plastic lomographic camera’s that fog, colour cast and vignette all over the place. Not perfect, but you read that imperfection as character, as artistic even…
Back to the high-end photography tools and Adobe Lightroom offers both extremes, from perfect development of a RAW image to the application of all kinds of filters and effects. This is made all the easier by presets, and I recently found a collection of black and white presets emulating a bag load of classic film types and rather than just offering a one click approach, you use the presets in a more traditional darkroom sense, by developing, toning, fixing, and using a type of paper, which all effect the final image. The advantage of presets over plugins, such as the fantastic Nik Silver Efex, or the camera clubs favourite, Topaz, is that the presets are all non-destructive within Lightroom. The advantage to the XeL B&W set is that they’ve taken the real world shot, going through the whole development process and then emulated it in Lightroom.
There’s an excellent real world example given by pro photographer, Jeff Tamagini on the XeL site here.