Introducing a new Aperture Preset: Grain

Aperture Grain Preset

Aperture Grain Preset

The first camera I owned was an old Nikon FM 35mm with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens. It was a gift from my father when I was 13 or 14 years old. I used that camera for years. It's the reason I fell in love with photography and why I turned a room in my house into a makeshift darkroom. I loved spending countless hours in there developing my own film and printing my photographs.

My favourite film was, and still is, Ilford HP5 Plus 400. It's a black and white film with beautiful grain that tends to create sharp edge contrast. The grain has a certain "punch" to it that I like.

These days, although I still shoot film occasionally and continue to develop it myself, most of my photographic work is digital. Aperture is my main software.

Unfortunately, digital photographs don't have grain. At least not natural-looking grain. At high ISO, what you get is digital noise that in my opinion doesn't look like film grain at all. And most recent cameras are so good that noise is almost non-existent even at ISO of 3200 or higher. In contrast, the grain you get with an ISO 3200 film is too much for most cases.

Of course, there are plugins that simulate film grain. For example, onOne Software and Nik Sofware have Perfect B&W and Silver Efex Pro respectively. Both are designed to convert photographs to black and white and can add natural(ish) looking grain. They both work really well and I use them often.

However, I don't want to put every image through a plugin. It's time consuming and it creates huge TIFF files. I do this for my best photographs, but often I want a quick version done entirely within Aperture.

That's why I created the Aperture Film Grain preset.

It's an Aperture preset (of Effect as they're now called) that emulates the grain of Ilford HP5 Plus 400. I add it as the last step in my post-processing when I feel the photograph could use a little bit of grain.

The Aperture Film Grain preset basically adds a film grain mask using the Dodge and Burn bricks in Aperture so you can adjust the strength to best suit the particular photograph.

I'm releasing it for free. Find out more information and the download link in the Film Grain preset page.