When it comes to color and black & white I’m sometimes undecided. I tend to go with the mood. Simply, some things look better in color and some look better in black and white. It really isn’t that complicated. A few months ago, I came upon a company called Visual Supply Company and a product a lot of professional photographers and enthusiasts were raving about called VSCO Film.
VSCO Film is a set of digital emulsions which mimic some of the great camera films of our era. I recently acquired their Lightroom 3 set of presets (after a heated inner debate) and have adopted them to my workflow.
What you get for your money?
Since I purchased the standard version I got two presets folders one titled Standard and another Toolkit (which rocks but more on this later). Here’s the gist of it. Select a preset from the avaliable film types and then continue to work the image with their Toolkit.
VSCO Standard Folder
- Fuji 160
- Fuji 400H
- Fuji 800Z
- Ilford HP5
- Kodak Portra 160
- Kodak Portra 400
- Kodak Portra 800
- Kodak T-MAX 3200
- Kodak Tri-X 400
Now all the aforementioned presets have 3 types as well.
For example, let’s choose Ilford HP5 to demonstrate how they’ll look in Lightroom 3.
- Ilford HP5
- Ilford HP5 +
- Ilford HP5 –
VSCO film doesn’t affect the WB of your image and also doesn’t add Clarity either but they do add their own Sharpening to each presets. With that said, these aforementioned options are in the mix in how I process my images. 1st I check for WB, then I select a preset from the Standard Kit. 2nd, I’ve been usually auto leveling the blacks immediately aftter to get a good feel. I then hop over to the Toolkit and go down the list selected some and add a little bit of this and little bit of that along the way, until I arrive at a final edit.
These set of presets, like any other presets, are not sinlge click solutions to that generate amazing results magically but they do provide a very solid foundation upon which to further continue to tweak your images(hence the Toolkit). Keep in mind, that you’re free to tweak any slider you want. You’re by no means trap VSCO, you slide to the left or right at will.
Is it worth it? Well, that’s a subjective question. To me it was. I absolutely love the color renditions of some of my favorite old school films most which by now have been discontinued anyway, so its nice to know one can have that look on your digital frames. Will I delete my other tweaked presets?
Absolutely not, those other presets are part of my body of work and have carved, sort off what might be called “my own look” but I’m certainly open to live with VSCO and my own sets and develop a nice balance. To be honest, they’ve done a wonderful job of creating a look that would be quite difficult to do on your own, unless, you’re a hardcore Lightroom engineer and have a profound knowledge of film types.
In the end, VSCO film presets are just another tool to let our creatives minds explore our photographic vision. Like Siskel & Ebert would have have said “Two thumbs up for VSCO Film.” If you’re an Aperture user, Patrick La Roque has a nice write up you can read as well.