An attempt at a Velvia effect

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about landscape photography, and differences between digital and filmic characteristics.  Here in the UK there are still a lot of landscape purists who praise the saturation and colour of films like Velvia.  After doing a bit of research, reading between the lines, and experimenting, here’s what I’ve come up with with one of my recent shots I like quite a bit.  One of the photographs I’ve been admiring for some time, not only for its composition but also for its filmic qualities, is the shot of a Seastar on Kelp which is the frontispiece of John Shaw’s wonderful book Closeups in Nature; I’ve also been admiring a lot of the intimate shots by large format photographers like David Ward.


This filmic look will, I think, enhance the viewing pleasure of some of my moody, contrasty macros, especially those with quite a lot of dark tones.


Basically, the process is in two stages.  Films like Velvia seem to be known for a couple of things: firstly, overall saturation; secondly, a contrast between colder shadows and warmer highlights.


To achieve this I’m experimenting with a two-stage process in photoshop.


First, to saturate the colours only, I switch modes from RGB to Lab Color, and bring in the end-point sliders in channels a and b by about 40 or 50 points (equally at both ends).  This method is useful because it saturates the colours without affecting the luminosity of the overall image.


Second, I switch back to RGB and work on colour balance, with two separate layers for shadows and highlights.  I start with Shadows, use a Levels layer or play around with opacity to brighten the image in case things are starting to clip at the dark end, then add a Highlights layer.


For the comparison images here, I brought Lab Color channels a and b in by 40 each end, modified the Shadows Colour Balance -5, -4, +5 (82% Layer opacity), and modified the Highlights Colour Balance +5, 0, -20 (70% Layer opacity).  The effect is subtle, but seems to produce a nice rendering that gives the image a little more impact.  Hope you like!


Here are the two shots:

First, the original:




Then, the modified version:




Hopefully, you see what I’m trying to do!





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