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So these digital cameras produce incredibly smooth images. And even when film was the primary method of capturing images, most photographers tried to avoid the texture caused by film grain. And yet, there is a certain appeal with film grain in an image. Let's take a look at how you can add film grain to any photo. In this case I have an image that I've already converted to black and white, and I've flattened that image just for the convenience of this lesson. You might be aware that there's actually a film grain filter, found on the Filter, Artistic menu. However, that can create some problems in the highlights, especially if you're not careful with the settings.
So I prefer to use a different filter with a different techniques. To get started, I'm going to add a new layer on top of this background image layer. Now I want that new layer to have special properties so I hold an alt key on Windows or the option key on Mcintosh while clicking the create new layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the layer's panel. When I do so, the new layer dialog will appear. I'll go ahead and call this layer film grain since that what I'm doing with this new layer. And changing that name will help make sure that I never forget why that particular layer is there.
I'm going to change the blend mode, labeled just mode here to hard light. Which is a contrast blend mode that's very strong in it's effect. I also need to turn on the check box to fill this layer with the hard light neutral color which is 50% gray. With those options established we can click okay and the new layer is created. Now we'll go to the filter menu and choose noise, add noise. This will bring up the add noise dialog. I'll turn on the monochromatic check box. In this case it's actually not an issue, but I prefer to turn this option on regardless.
And I'll use the Gaussian rather than uniform method of distribution. This will give us a somewhat random pattern to our noise, which is going to simulate the appearance of film grain. Then I can simply adjust the amount. Now keep in mind that we're going to be reducing the opacity in this effect, so it's not quite as harsh in the image. So think more about the grain structure here, rather than about the intensity of the effect. So let's say somewhere around here looks like a good grain structure to me. I'll go ahead and click Okay. Finally we can reduce the opacity of this film grain layer so that the film grain is much more subtle.
In fact we generally want the effect to be incredibly subtle. I can use the pop-up slider for the opacity control at the top right of the layers panel, or simply click at the label opacity and drag left to reduce the opacity or right to increase the opacity. As you can see, we need to reduce the opacity rather significantly, to produce a pleasing effect in the image. In this case, I think I'll go down to about 5% on the opacity. If I turn off the visibility for my film grain layer, you can see the original image, without the film grain. Clicking once again will enable that film grain layer so we can see the texture that has been added to the image.
Film grain certainly isn't an effect you'll want to add to every image, however in many cases it can be incredibly effective in adding to the mood of a photograph.
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