How to approach the Elite Film emulations

The same techniques utilized in handling analogue files can also be applied to digital files.

Our new Cobalt Elite products are made following the colourimetric process to ensure the highest quality of colour reproduction as we describe HERE . But what does it mean in terms of usability for the user to have them installed on his favourite raw editor?

From chemical to digital editing.

The film workflow is:

-1 choose your film type for colour signature, ASA and latitude, grain type/resolution.
-2 Capture using box exposure ( under/over exposing is a bit different and more complicated).
-3 Develop following the charts, the experience and your skills to achieve the result you are looking for.
-4 Enjoy your slides projected (for positive) or your prints after another step.

When it comes to the traditional method of film development, the number 3,  there are specific steps that must be followed in order to produce a colour negative or slide. The C41 and E6 processes are widely recognized for their precise timing, temperature requirements, and stages of development. Once these ideal conditions are met, a skilled developer has the ability to customize the output by adjusting the amount of each stage used to control elements such as contrast, saturation, and colour balance.

 

 

With the advent of digital technology, we now have the ability to recreate various aspects of the traditional approach using our Elite emulations. This can be achieved simply by starting with an acquired Raw file, with the second part already completed. This allows for greater flexibility and precision in the selection process.

Using our Cobalt Elite profiles, you can work following these steps:

-1 capture your photo in RAW.

As we embrace the digital age, we are afforded the unique opportunity to repeat and modify any variable in the following steps processing as many times as necessary. This flexibility is the perk of the digital approach. 

-2 select your favourite colour signature
-3 Edit as you wish giving or removing contrasts, recovering highlights/shadows and using all the flexibility given by the digital raws.
-4 enjoy your digital/printed files.

 

The two processes mentioned above involve a development phase and the selection of a colour signature. However, only one of these processes is repeatable, allowing you to achieve your desired output and potentially enhance it by repeating the workflow and modifying certain elements or methods. With the introduction of Cobalt Elite packs, you can now maintain your preferred film colour signature while utilizing a digital, repeatable workflow.

The benefits of using this technology extend beyond simply replicating a film’s color signature on digital. It also allows for accurate color output even when the lighting conditions during filming differ from the ideal conditions specified on the packaging.

The daylight definition refers to the optimal colour rendition of the emulsion under specific lighting conditions. When the lighting source deviates from this standard, the resulting output may not be as precise. However, with our Cobalt Elite profiles, you can still achieve ideal colours even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. This is due to the advanced digital process we employed in creating these profiles.

Editing approaches

Following the theoretical aspect, we now move on to the practical approach to enhancing our Cobalt Elite Packs in the Lightroom/CameraRaw environment.:

Samples 1/2

 

 

The videos above (one on Lightroom CC one on Lightroom Classic) provide a practical demonstration of the development process through the utilization of our cutting-edge Cobalt Editing menu.

Evidently, the utilization of this intuitive menu significantly simplifies the film editing pipeline. The process consistently commences with white balance adjustment, seamlessly followed by exposure compensation. Subsequently, users have the flexibility to either choose a preferred colour profile or initiate the “film editing” process, all before applying final colour adjustments.

The Cobalt editing preset menu employs a combination of numbers and letters to effectively communicate priorities and tool categorization.

Numeric identifiers serve as a guide for the correct sequence of actions, while tools sharing the same numbers efficiently target adjustments within the corresponding panel.

Certainly, our toolkit comprises the following essential components:

Low and High Key: This facilitates the creation of the characteristic aesthetics associated with extended or compressed developments.

Orton Effect: This ingenious tool introduces a subtle softness to the typically razor-sharp details inherent in digital images. To optimize results, it’s recommended to adjust the amount slider within the range of 20 to 50.

Washed Black Point: By employing this feature, the black point is delicately elevated, replicating the appearance of photographs traditionally printed on paper.

Vignette: This element contributes a compelling vignette effect, enhancing the focus on the central subject.

Vignette with Mask: This advanced vignette option permits greater control over its application through the use of a mask.

Grain Mask: Crafted to replicate the authentic film experience, this mask enhances grain intensity, particularly in darker regions of the images for the real non-linear feeling of the original film.

These fundamental tools pave the way for the final touch: the precise grain adjustment. By adeptly configuring the grain settings and judiciously manipulating the amount slider to harmonize with the desired output dimensions, a straightforward set of tools emerges. This collection, when complemented by our Elite colour profiles, readily facilitates the transformation of any digital image into an authentic film-like masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

Sample 2

This portrait has an ideal exposure as you can see from the histogram, so the process is easy and starts with choosing the colour profile and after that, picking the white balance on a grey area (the clouds on the back).

I pick the Cobalt Portra 800 adding his grain setting. On red the editing already  done.

As you can see above, after the basic starting points:

1-colour profile
2-white balance
3-exposure, highlights/shadows recovery, B/W points.

a plethora of tools become available to enhance the output. However, when developing films, it is preferable to approach the process as if in a dark room, passing the footage through a contrast curve. To achieve the desired effect, an S-shaped curve with a slightly open black point was applied, resulting in a punchy look with a slightly washed-out lower area. The digital medium allows for endless choices in achieving the desired outcome as you can see below. 

As we aim to replicate the shorter chemical development time of the darkroom, we have the ability to decrease the contrast of the resulting image. By modifying the contrast curve, we can introduce a negative dehazing effect that mimics the appearance of an underdeveloped film.

Below, you can observe both versions and notice how the colour signature remains consistent despite the distinct modifications, accurately resembling the true film renditions in each image.

Sample 3

In this example, we will demonstrate the significance of colour profiles even in well-lit settings. By simply switching from the default profile to Cobalt Neutral, the true colours of this dress are revealed. This emphasizes the importance of selecting the appropriate colour profile for accurate representation of colours.

Now we have the proper starting point to see how big is the impact of the Elite profile; this time I will choose the Fuji Pro400H colour profile.

As usual, first the colour profile, WB and after in sequence from the top to the bottom, exposure, recoveries and B/W points (and grain as well).

As we sought to enhance our editing process, we turned to the colour grading tool offered by contemporary raw developers. By adjusting the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, we were able to fine-tune the contrast of our images, mimicking the effects achieved in a traditional darkroom.

Below, from the digital calibrated starting point to the finished film look, respecting all the shades and thin features of your favourite film emulsion.

Below is a detail to show how the web compression is making an error showing posterization on reds that actually is not there.

Conclusion

While digital editing offers unparalleled flexibility, it can also be overwhelming due to the vast number of potential outcomes and the quality of the tools at our disposal. Our top priority is to provide efficient and purposeful products to our customers, which is why we are excited to introduce the Cobalt Elite pack. This groundbreaking set of profiles offers a reliable foundation for any development process, whether it’s intensive or more casual. With our products, every instrument available on modern raw developers will preserve the quality of your photos’ colour signature, ensuring that your pictures always look fabulous and coherent with the chosen film emulsion as you load your camera with an actual roll of film.

 

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