Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding a film-grain effect, part of Lightroom 5: 02 Optimizing Your Photos.
I think it's safe to say that most photographers who photographed with film most of the time would try to avoid the appearance of film grain using relatively slow speed films in order to ensure a very small grain structure, and therefore no obvious appearance of grain in the final image. And yet sometimes I do like to add a film grain effect to my photos. In most cases when I want to add a film grain effect I'm already going for a slightly older appearance in the image.
And in fact, more often than not, when I'm adding film grain I'm doing so to an image that I've converted to a black and white appearance. I'll go ahead and convert this image to black and white for example. Just applying a basic black and white treatment. And then I'll scroll down to the effects section of the right panel in the develop module in order to adjust the settings for film grain. I'll start off by increasing the value for amount. Which essentially increases the intensity of that film grain effect. And then I'll adjust the Size slider, and this adjusts the overall size, or the chunkiness you might say, of that film grain effect.
I can then adjust the roughness setting. And I think of this as adjusting the overall variability of the effect. With a high roughness value, we have a bit more varied texture. Whereas with a lower roughness value. We have more uniformity, and therefore, a somewhat smooth appearance to that film grain. Generally speaking, I'll start off with a very strong setting for the amount slider, so that I can get a better sense of the overall effect. I'll also zoom in to a one to one ratio, or a 100 percent zoom setting, so I get a better feel for the appearance of that film grain.
Then when I'm happy with the basic structure, in other words the over all size and roughness of the effect, then I'll reduce the amount slider to a more appropriate value. And this is actually the more tricky element of applying a film grain effect. I'll scroll up a little bit so I can turn off the adjustment for effects. And then I'll turn it back on again and you can see I've applied a very strong film grain effect. Even though while I was applying the adjustment I didn't feel like it was especially strong. Therefore, in my mind, a little bit of perspective can be very helpful.
Toggling the effects adjustment off and then on, to get a better feel for the strength of the grain effect you've applied. In most cases, a relatively subtle effect will still work very well. And bear in mind the effect will appear a little bit stronger and more obvious. When you print the image. So while film grain was often something to be avoided, in many cases it can be a nice creative effect, especially for images that have a little bit of an older feel to them such as those that we would otherwise convert to black and white or perhaps apply a sepia tone type of effect to.
I don't tend to use a grain effect all that often, but when I do, it really can add a sense of character to an image.
This course was created by Tim Grey. We're honored to host this training in our library. Watch more courses in this series here.
- Evaluating images
- Adjusting white balance
- Working with Clarity
- Fine-tuning with the Tone Curve
- Painting adjustments into an image
- Applying noise reduction
- Correcting perspective
- Converting to black and white
- Duplicating adjustments
- Stitching panoramas