[PlayRaw] Dornbusch Lighthouse -- A Film Emulation Challenge



Here is a raw for you to play with, showing the Dornbusch Lighthouse, a wonderful place at the northern end of the island of Hiddensee in the Baltic Sea. This is one of my favorite shots during the last months. A little later I found out that this is obviously one of the most common perspectives to capture this lighthouse.

Anyway, I thougth it might be interesting to add some spice to this play raw and define a little constraint: A film emulation (or simulation) should be involved in your edit (no matter how it is realized). I’m curious how you are using film emulations. Do you try to reproduce a particular film as good as possible or is it just a place to start from? Are these film emulations authentic? Please try to find a few words about your processing and which film you emulated.
(In case you want to edit this raw without involving any film emulation, just point it out clearly, please :wink:)

So, here is the raw:
DSCF0083.RAF (32.2 MB)
This file is licensed under ‘Creative Commons, By-Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike5

Maybe I should start with one of my own edits (yes, quite often I have multiple edits and it is so hard to decide :grinning:

This version was processed in darktable, using the ‘Kodak Ektachrome 100 VS generic’ preset, which have been offered for download here, quite a while ago in this post.

(Thanks a lot for this @PkmX!)
Apart from using the style, I only added some corrections using the shadows/highlight module and ‘chose’ a white balance… I did not shoot much film yet and when I did, I scanned it, which seems not to be the best idea in order to learn about the real characteristics of these films. When using these emulation styles in darktable, it only sets the tone curve and the clut module. Changing the white balance has a very strong impact on the characteristics of the result. Making it even harder to judge if the film emulation is authentic. What is the adequate white balance for what film emulation? Something like daylight for a daylight film? I know, the aspect of authenticity is not too important in order to create a pleasant result. However, at least for me it would be interesting to see edits, which you consider to be authentic.

OK, so let’s see, what you come up with!

[Feature request] Improved graduated filter

Processed with Filmulator. I left the white balance alone, actually, but raised exposure comp by 5/6 of a stop, increased Drama to 60, lowered the highlight clipping point to 0.6831, and set shadow brightness to 170.

Filmulator doesn’t strive to mimic any particular film, but it actually simulates the physical process of film development in order to get the subtle benefits of film without resorting to mimicking the flaws.


Seems to work pretty well! Thanks for this edit. I just compiled filmulator to play with it.



  • Channelmixer Kodak T-Max 100-emulaatio (gray, red 0.24, green 0.37, blue 0.39)

-DSCF0083.RAF.xmp (4.2 KB)

Color version without emulation: DSCF0083.RAF.xmp (10.4 KB)

(Shreedhar Inamdar) #5

Great picture. I tried to give it a brooding “last rays of sunlight” kind of look using RT5.2
DSCF0083.jpg.out.pp3 (10.9 KB)


A stupid question: Why are film emulations used?

(Shreedhar Inamdar) #7

I think it is to give some ` analog ’ kind of look to your photos. You may also have a look at

(John) #8

:roll_eyes: A sort of warped nostalgia. :grinning: I used the term warped because true film results that are usually used don’t really emulate it.

Serious amateur work generally wouldn’t be done on glossy paper. Colours in many respects were more faithful than digital tends to be but with a twist. The twists mostly relate to skin tones. Fuji for instance was balanced for Japanese skin tones that would please them. This is why their film proved very popular elsewhere. It made some other races look like they had been on holiday. Agfa was sort of aimed at hotter sunnier climbs where the sun would wash things out so in some respects was punchier. Kodak more neutral. Iford was better known for black and white. Kodak was pretty tricky. From time to time they changed the iso rating and the processing regime. Many people who had been doing their own processing for some time took no notice of the changes and stuck with the old ones for better colouration.

Then there is the paper used to print it on. Generally not glossy even from the chemists eventually.

Much the same on slide as well.


(PkmX) #9

Not attempting to emulate a certain film, but I used @patdavid’s “Kodak Portra 400 NC 3+” as a start with some tweaks in RawTherapee:

The 400NC series is probably my favorite simulation now. The “2” w/o push/pull processing is a good default, with the “1-” being good for clarity shots and “3+” for moody shots.


RT 5.2 edit without involving any film emulation, thanks for sharing this beautiful photo :slight_smile:

DSCF0083.RAF.pp3 (11.3 KB)

(John) #11

Naughty but due to another thread I thought I would see what After Shot Pro would do with it before trying RT. Used nothing but sliders. Tone downed the red on the lighthouse. toned down the greens. Local contrast, sharpening, fill light,vibrance and toned that down on greens. I’d hope to bring up more in the very dark area in the tree but there isn’t much there.

I also used it’s curves to chop off some odd spikes at the end of the histogram that were causing problems with colour manipulation. There is a side effect I can see in one place but selection can be used to prevent that from happening - or could be on the older 32bit package I tried.

To be honest I don’t think I have ever seen a film emulator that gives results film could in the right hands. Maybe if they were left in the sun for a long time or had faded for other reasons.



So the emulations are done with modern image processing software. It’s certainly easier to mimic something that is already well-received, but these same programs can create completely new “emulations” that are spectacular and reflect just the author’s thoughts.
Old good times were the best times?

(John) #13

RT. Just selected the film like curve and a few simple adjustments. Reduced and sharpened in fotoxx

DSCF0083.jpg.out.pp3 (9.9 KB)

The curve seems to have “flattened” the sky to me and I wonder if it matches the general lighting really.


(Thomas) #14

No particular film emulation. What a gorgeous photo! I had to try it anyway. DT only

DSCF0083.RAF.xmp (12.2 KB)


Still a shot worth sharing :grapes:. Thanks for sharing!

There appears to be a glow or halo around the tree that I don’t find particularly flattering. I assume that is because of the back lighting — or is it due to post-processing?

@PkmX I like your rendition the most so far. The emulation suits the photograph. Another good thing is that it doesn’t have the aforementioned glow. Some people might prefer a background with more contrast but I think it is fine.


I like your somewhat tighter crop!


(Moisés Musashi Santana) #17

The color one = Rawtherapee using film simulation VisionColor Osiris (Rec709) + G’mic for a bit of grain.

BW = Rawtherapee + Silver Efex Pro 2 film -> Agfa APX 400.

Stunning picture by the way. :slight_smile:

DSCF0083.RAF.pp3 (10.5 KB)


thanks @Wocket for the lighthouse view -I always dreamt of living inside one of these - and thanks everybody contributing such different approaches =)

nufraw > gimp (partha’s build) > gmic sharpening / split / Bergger LUT (size 64, a bit huge!) / grain > crop. Luckily I exported the result, as I decided to ever so slighty rotate the image gimp crashed, so I called it a signfrom the gods

Bergger_BRF_400_Plus_BW_DXO5_Oleg_Film_Print_Emulation.zip (844.9 KB)

now and watching the image I think a more daring crop would be leaving remaining left branch out, right on top of second trunk… oh well :stuck_out_tongue:


@chroma_ghost Awesome take – on video cassette, please! I agree with the need for rotation but don’t mind that you left the branch hanging – the suspense (double pun)!


@afre on video cassette, please!

your wishes my commands :seedling::giraffe::giraffe::giraffe::giraffe:

Tape reg by http://goughlui.com/the-vhs-corner/vhs-cassette-library/tdk-tv/