Over the past week or two, I found myself staring at VSCO's homepage thinking to myself "Now, when are they gonna put out their next big new thing?" Looking back on that now, it sounds very, very "#firstworldproblems"-esque, but it's also an understandable way to feel - for me at least. You see, VSCO is quite good about putting out new content on a regular basis. So much so that for the past few announcements, I've begun to have a sort of 'sixth sense' for when a new announcement is coming. But enough about me being the world's most spoiled VSCO customer, let's get onto the actual announcement from today.
Today, VSCO announced their sixth pack of film presets for Lightroom and ACR; VSCO Film 06 - The Alternative Process Collection. It's called this because the film stocks contained in this pack were developed using some of the popular alternative ways to develop film. Pushing, Pulling, and Cross Processing.
As I do for pretty much any VSCO product announcement, I purchased 06 within the hour of it being announced and had it downloaded onto my computer ready to go in record time. Since I didn't just want to apply the presets on old shots that I'd edited before, the first thing I did when I got home from school was go on a quick jaunt around my neighborhood to take some nice pictures of the fall colors. It wasn't the most ambitious notion, but it was a fun little outing and I got some shots that I can now talk about here to explain a little further into what these presets are like in practice.
First up are the Pushed presets. These make up the majority of the pack and for good reason. Pushing a film stock back in the darkroom days meant you shot the camera on a much higher ISO than your film actually was and then accounted for that difference in the darkroom in order to get usable results. Some films handled this better than others, but across the board you usually see higher contrast, more depth and saturation to the colors and an increase in grain.
Here are a couple shots processed with the Kodak Portra 800 +1, and the Kodak Portra 800 +1 Over presets. That means that these shots are processed as if they were shot on Kodak Portra 800, pushed 1 stop higher than normal, and then some of them overexposed on top of that.
As you can see, the images are pretty contrasty and saturated, and if you zoom in there is a good deal of grain. It's all very well controlled though, and as long as you don't go overboard the images look quite nice.
The pulled film stocks are pretty much the polar opposite of the pushed stocks. Pulling film is when you shoot in the camera lower than the film that you're shooting on, and then correct for it in the darkroom development. This nets you a less contrasty image with more neutral color tones and less grain, and so those can be a good place to start if you're more into the faded look that some of the VSCO presets provide. That being said, the only two pulled films in this pack are black and white films, mainly because there isn't much of a need to pull film anymore, slow color film is easy to be had and so as a result we are left with these two stocks. Here are a couple shots I took with them.
Albeit them being the only two pulled films in 06, they really are quite gorgeous. These are extremely neutral presets that really give the film a monochromatic look. I'm a big fan of that more low-contrast, mono look in my black and white images, so these presets might take over my black and white workflow in the near future.
Last, we have the Cross Processed film stocks. Basically every color film has either a "positive" or a "negative" color to them. You then have to develop them with the right positive or negative chemicals in order to get the colors to turn out right. If you switch that up thought, and instead develop the positive film with the negative chemicals and the negative film with the positive chemicals, you can get a variety of effects which fall under the name "Cross Processing."
These effects usually manifest themselves quite boldly. Cross Processed images have much increased contrast, extremely vibrant colors, lots of grain, and large color shifts especially visible in the shadows. It's an iconic look, and you can find it everywhere from actual film development, to these presets, to Instagram filters.
Here are a couple of shots processed with the Kodak E100VS XP Over, and Portra 400X XP Over presets. That means these were processed as if they were shot on their respective films before being cross-processed and then overexposed.
You can definitely tell the difference between the pushed film shots above and these two. The first shot is extremely contrasty and vibrant, while the second exhibits a yellow-tint all throughout the photo. It's not a look I go for very often with my photos, but experimenting with it like this is a fun exercise, and makes me consider using this kind of a look more often.
I had a pretty fun time shooting and editing these shots today. None of them are my favorite photo I've ever taken, but it was just a fun way to spend an afternoon and a good creative exercise. I think there's something awfully nice about spending time like that. You might not be focusing in on your most ambitious or high quality project ever, but as long as you have fun doing it and it makes you feel creatively fulfilled, whats the harm done?
Until next time.