film emulations

VSCO pesto

Earlier this week, there was some really great light in my backyard (a rarity this year, when all we seem to be getting is dreary, cloudy skies) and it was hitting our potted basil just so, begging me to take out the camera.

I always set my Fujifilm X-T1 to shoot in RAW+JPEG mode, with the intention of using the JPG and maybe messing around a little with the RAW if I didn't like how the JPG turned out.

Anyhow, to my eye, the straight-out-of-camera JPG was perfect. Great colours, tonality, no blown out highlights, nice blacked out background (a fence in the shade of a 50' maple tree). Perfect.

But what if I were to process the RAW image using some VSCO film emulations? Just for kicks?

Never having really shot film (I only started getting serious about photography in the digital era), I've nonetheless always liked the look of film, and have enjoyed using VSCO's film emulations in Lightroom to get something that approaches a more analog look. Digital images have a tendency of being too, um, clinical to my eye. VSCO takes off the edges.

VSCO does an admirable job of emulating numerous slide and negative films from years gone by. I don't really care that the "films" aren't real, I don't really care that the emulations aren't perfect, and I certainly don't really care what pedantic photo snobs have to say about VSCO (or any other of the countless film emulations out there). I just like the look that VSCO can provide in a single click. Each film emulation has its own personality, look and feel. Not each emulation is well-suited to each subject or lighting condition. Just like real film.

So here is my potted basil plant, 9 ways. The first is the out-of-camera JPG, and the other eight were processed in Lightroom using a different VSCO film emulation. Apart from the square crop and having set the while balance to daytime (5500K), no other changes were made.

Which emulation do you prefer for this kind of subject?

(Click on a thumbnail to see it full screen.)