Shooting both film and digital images at the same time is tricky, and many photographers avoid it because it’s difficult to get the digital images to consistently match the film images, and vice versa. Film + digital makes an effective hybrid.
How I Pull Off Film + Digital Images
The secret to shooting hybrid (film + digital) effectively is to use anchor images – in other words, a scan of a film image that you take during the session that you can refer back to when editing your digital files (see below for examples).
*Click on each image above to embiggen.
When I started incorporating film into my paid work I would shoot only a few rolls of film throughout the day. It was all I could afford to do in the beginning and still make a profit for that session.
I would shoot an anchor image every time I had a change in lighting conditions: ie. backlit for a portrait, and then open shade with a family formal or ceremony photo. As the lighting changed I would take a few more anchor images that I could use to refer to later.
Later, in post production when editing in Lightroom, I use the second monitor button in the bottom left hand corner of the Lightroom Development screen (shown below) to hold the anchor image in place and then use that image to match a similar digital image using my Mastin Labs presets.
This makes it super quick to get an exact match between your film images and your digital images and see how film handled that lighting situation in terms of white balance (warm/cool) and tint (green/magenta casts).
Once I have a similar digital image adjusted I can apply the same settings to all digital images in that group and make everything look like a cohesive set of film images.
As I started making more money from every shoot I increased the amount of film I shot, while still matching the digital images to the film images later in Lightroom.
I still prefer to shoot film for anything I can, as it goes beyond the look for me. I just love the method of working with film cameras and how it forces you to be in the omen with your subject.
It is also far less distracting for me to have no LCD screen to look at after every shot, since that seems to become a habit that is nearly impossible to break. Shooting film removes this ‘chimping’ habit completely.
Here are a couple final tips I have for you as well on combining both digital and film photography:
1. Film Development. Be sure to have your film developed at a good lab like The FIND Lab. They have skilled technicians that will produce great, high-quality scans on Fuji Frontiers, the king of all film scanners, for amazing color and depth.
2. Digital SOOC. Make sure to expose your digital images for proper or slight overexposure. This will give you a good base for applying film emulation presets like the ones I created for Mastin Labs, and will help you better match your digital images to your film images.
And to make it even easier for you to mimic my method, I’ve even provided a tutorial video of me editing an image in Lightroom here.
And there you are! I hope I’ve shed some light on shooting hybrid, and maybe convinced some of you that it’s not impossible and to give it a try. Please let me know if you have any questions about my article or my presets.
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