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What defines the look of these pictures?


Jacob Moeller
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Hey!

 

I'm making a short film and I want the look of it to sort of resemble the attached photos. Yet I'm having a hard time actually articulating what the look of those photos are, without simply saying "See, like this!"

 

They all to be have a sort of 70s vibe i think (the JFK one obviously having to be pre-1963...) and I want to say the colors "pop" yet at the same time, that the colors are somewhat "faded" - so I am royally confused.

 

So yeah, what defines the "Look" of these photos? I'm looking for some technical terms i guess. Is it a desaturated look? High contrast? Faded colors?

 

Again, just so i can better articulate the look of the film to my crew.

 

Also, the images obviously have a film/celluloid sort of texture.... and feel.... We are not shooting on film but the RED Epic and will of course have to try and recreate the look digitally, probably in the grading process (without plunking on a cheesy instagram filter..), but it would be nice to know the look before so we can shoot with that in mind.

 

Thanks alot!

 

/Jacob

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post-25012-0-06043300-1410027190_thumb.jpg

post-25012-0-44398400-1410027203_thumb.jpg

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The two photos have definitely faded over time, but they still "pop" as you say due to the viability of film. Creating that kind of desaturated look would probably look best if you originated on film and then desaturated it digitially. You will still have a "digital look" by shooting on the RED.

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Hey!

 

I'm making a short film and I want the look of it to sort of resemble the attached photos. Yet I'm having a hard time actually articulating what the look of those photos are, without simply saying "See, like this!"

 

They all to be have a sort of 70s vibe i think (the JFK one obviously having to be pre-1963...) and I want to say the colors "pop" yet at the same time, that the colors are somewhat "faded" - so I am royally confused.

 

So yeah, what defines the "Look" of these photos? I'm looking for some technical terms i guess. Is it a desaturated look? High contrast? Faded colors?

 

Again, just so i can better articulate the look of the film to my crew.

 

Also, the images obviously have a film/celluloid sort of texture.... and feel.... We are not shooting on film but the RED Epic and will of course have to try and recreate the look digitally, probably in the grading process (without plunking on a cheesy instagram filter..), but it would be nice to know the look before so we can shoot with that in mind.

 

Thanks alot!

 

/Jacob

 

Photographs and color movie film have fading or desaturation, color shifts due to differential color fading, and color casts, due to the other reasons as well as the base material 'aging'.

 

So in order to 'reproduce' these effects you have to use all three 'effects'. Different materials aged in different ways. But for me many 'old color photos' typically eventually resulted in a heavy 'redish' cast. But then some seemed to have a cyan cast... and yet others 'yellow'.

 

For black and white the white base would yellow along with the shadow/dark areas becoming lighter. If the print was toned with sepia, then one could also see a more 'redish' cast as the image aged. While there was quite a bit of B&W from the 50-70's... most people were transitioning to 'color'... because it was so much more 'real'... well... until the photos sat in the cupbord or cardboard boxes for a few years...

(There are also effects due to poor processing, such as B&W showing fixer stains, or the like...).

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Pic #1 has a Kodachrome look to me, contrasty with rich blacks and deep saturated dark reds and blues, but less saturated greens tending toward yellow, and under-saturated skin tones again tending toward yellow. Brighter tones on the greyscale are increasingly desaturated, topping out in a creamy white.

 

Pic #2 looks like a faded print from old color negative, possibly overexposed in camera or printed too high. Again, brighter tones look bleached out, but darker colors still pop. Overall warm color bias. Though the blacks look good here, you could play with this look more by lifting the blacks and tinting them magenta to get a more faded, vintage look.

 

Pic #3 looks like colorized black and white to me. I'm not sure color film technology of the time could have produced some of those bright saturated cyans, pinks, and maroon colors in the background.

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I would try shooting with uncoated lenses. Astro Berlins, or Kowa Cine Prominars. Super baltars are also a goos choice but they have more coatings and can be more contrasty. Vintage Anamorphic lenses also can give this look.

 

uncoated lenses can soften and make the image a lot more milky.. in turn losing the extreme sharpness and pop associated with digital sensors and multicoated lenses.

 

I would think u could also easily overlay grain into your final digital intermediary quite easily.

 

 

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Thank you very much for your thoughts. Very helpful indeed.

 

Some of you have suggest shooting it on film and oh how i wish i could. But you litterally cannot get it developed in Denmark anymore (or probably get ahold of the stock!), and the budget does not allow us to send it abroad :) I have previously experimented with adding grain digitally and whereas it doesn't come close, it does give me a tiny bit of that texture i like in film.

 

Anyway! Thanks again.

Edited by Jacob Moeller
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Photos 1 and 3 are from the 60s. Photo 1 is probably a large format camera. I'm guessing a Hasselblad. They were very popular with photo journalists, and caught lots of detail and textures, which is why that photo stands out so much.

Hasselblads are in fact Medium format cameras, shooting a square (6cm x 6cm) neg, although pic #1 could, of course, have been cropped to that shape. It could also easily be 35mm slide film, which has much less grain that the equivalent neg stock.

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Well, maybe it wasn't a Hasselblad, but it still looks like a large format camera to me. I can't imagine anyone taking slides of the Kennedys while on the water.

 

In the era Rolleiflex was a more likely candidate for a photojournalist to be using. Hasselblad's 'star' accended, especially in the US, as NASA began to use that camera for space photo activities. Some photojounalism was still done with 4x5 Speed Graphics, but most people had moved to medium format roll film.

 

Here's a image of St. Kubrick of the Eternal Cinema in his youth:

 

tumblr_mcnr0eYxju1r1oldwo1_500.jpg

Edited by John E Clark
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The third one is a postcard. The offset screen is clearly visible. The strong colours -the reds and possibly the turquoise Ford Anglia- have been masked out and augmented to make up for the poor reproduction of those colours. On the sweater you can see the red bleeding out because of the inaccurate regustration of the mask. But it's a colour original.

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Older films, especially Kodachrome were higher contrast, which makes the colors pop a little more. The rich blacks, density, and grain structure help define it as well.

 

Kodak "reds" have always popped more than any other color, in my opinion.

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Try and force a curve sholder to the highlights of the image. This goes for the second two images. The first one has "healthier" highlights. What I'm saying here is, create a nonlinearity to the highlights, instead of just changing the slope of the entire curve. The third image has some contrast masking in it (it's looks like it's from some rotogravure print material) which tended to produce edge effects. It's a bit difficult to be specific, because these 3 images all have unique artefacts, and they aren't exactly of the "same look". This is an example of what I'm talking about:

 

http://www.imageupload.co.uk/images/2014/09/15/DSC04304.jpg

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Well, maybe it wasn't a Hasselblad, but it still looks like a large format camera to me. I can't imagine anyone taking slides of the Kennedys while on the water.

I'm curious as to why you think that shooting slide film would have been unusual, given that both Kodachrome and Ektachrome were widely used by photojournalists for many years.

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I'm curious as to why you think that shooting slide film would have been unusual, given that both Kodachrome and Ektachrome were widely used by photojournalists for many years.

 

As I recall the Playboy centerfold was shot on 8x10 slide film for years. That and the twin lens "Gowlandflex" 8x10 camera... and your set..

Edited by John E Clark
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I think George meant that he can't imagine it being 35mm (not that he can't imagine it being reversal film). Even though "slide film" is a term often used to describe reversal (E4/E6) film in all formats, technically a slide is a mounted piece of 35mm film. A "transparency" is a more correct term for 120/220 and sheet film.

Edited by Ed Davor
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I think George meant that he can't imagine it being 35mm (not that he can't imagine it being reversal film). Even though "slide film" is a term often used to describe reversal (E4/E6) film in all formats, technically a slide is a mounted piece of 35mm film. A "transparency" is a more correct term for 120/220 and sheet film.

 

Thanks Ed, I actually did misunderstand. I thought he meant someone shooting a large format slide, which is something I'd never heard of. But, yeah, I suppose it could have been an interpositive. I've never heard of one for a large format camera.

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I should probably have used the correct term Transparency, rather than the colloquial Slide. Speaking of correct terms, what do you mean by Interposiitve? This is a term used in Motion picture work to describe a print made from edited camera negative, which is then used to make an Internegative as part of the release print process.Although it does produce a 'Positive' image, it is technically a negative copy of a negative, which is therefore created using Negative film, rather than Reversal. In any event, it is not Camera original material.

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I've heard it refer to a print derived from another print for stills through some form of physical contact of unexposed film with a print. But yes, you are correct in that for motion picture footage it refers to the intermediate print between the original negative, and a new work negative to create other prints.

 

I'm rusty.

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