When I purchased VSCO Pack 05, I quickly had buyer’s remorse. I hadn’t realized it, but over the years, I developed a post-processing style that I was very happy with and when I tried the various Agfa and Kodak presets in Pack 05, they didn’t feel like “my” photos. That’s a good thing in a way since I think I have a particular look to my photos these days but there’s something good to getting out of our comfort zones and trying something new.
Meeting up with my family for my nephew’s birthday at a local teppanyaki restaurant allowed me the opportunity to take some photos in low light and mixed ambient light. And while my standard processing would normally look fine, I wanted to try out some of the other high-ISO film emulations in my toolkit. A favorite stood out to me: Kodak UltraMax 800.
With so many different temperature lights in the restaurant, getting the photos to look good with any VSCO preset takes some work. The original photos were much hotter in temperature and orange in color. The UltraMax 800 Cool preset helped calm the intensity of the yellow, oranges, and reds that adjusting the white balance couldn’t take care of. Even with that, I still knocked down the orange saturation about -5 in Lightroom because skin tones were too much.
The go-to in this kind of shooting condition is to convert them to black and white. Not to say it’s the easy way out, but it is. Taking color out of the equation makes things much easier to deal with because the color can be so crazy. There’s something I love about the mixed lighting colors and dimly lit conditions, though. Despite my good ol’ Canon 5D not being the best focusing in low-light or high-ISO shooting, it gave me that beautiful film look that I love.
I’ve since started trying more of the other film-types in Pack 05 after that night. My rule of thumb has always been to stick to the ISO version of the films that matches up to the ISO I’m using in-camera. That said, I use VSCO to get that film-look and not create colors that didn’t originally exist in the scene. I know there’s lots of people who enjoy manipulating presets to make their own look, but that’s never been my MO. I don’t aspire to be a commercial photographer or a someone who spends hours manipulating their photos to be something else. I just want to take photos I like and keep a beautiful film look without spending all of my time editing.