Grainy Images

Film grain is an inescapable fact of life in conventional photography, as clumps of silver grain are roughly the

This document iscreatedwith trialversionofCHM2PDFPilot 2.16.100.r the grains of silver in a film, the more sensitive that film is to light, and the better able it is to capture images in reduced lighting or with faster shutter speeds and/or smaller lens openings. In the never-ending quest to increase the exposure "speed" of films, grain has been a frequent byproduct. Given the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude of photographers, grain itself has found a place as a creative tool. Grain can mask defects in a person's face and, like high contrast (which often goes hand-in-hand with grainy pictures) reduces an image to its bare essentials.

In conventional photography, extra grain can be produced in several different ways. You can use a faster, inherently grainier film, or underexpose your film and then use longer processing times to make the grains that were exposed (usually the largest, clumpiest grains) visible. Warm developer solutions or even "grainy" overlays used to add grain to an image as it is printed are other options.

Photoshop offers several different ways of creating grain effects. Figure 3.31 shows the dialog box for the Film Grain filter, which is available by choosing Filters > Artistic > Film grain, or from the Filter Gallery (Filter > Filter Gallery). All these filters work best with black-and-white images, as adding grain effects to color photos generally produces unnatural-looking results. You'll learn more about filters in Chapter 8.

Figure 3.31. The Film Grain filter is included in the Filter Gallery.

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Figure 3.31. The Film Grain filter is included in the Filter Gallery.

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Film Grain

This filter has three slider controls. You can adjust the amount of Grain, the size of the Highlight area, and the Intensity of the highlights. The Grain setting controls the density of what appears to be random little black grains that are sprinkled throughout your image. The higher the value, the more details of your image obscured by the grain overlay. Since the Film Grain filter applies more grain to the highlights than to the shadows and midtones, the Highlight Area slider determines how many tones are considered highlights; at higher values, virtually the entire image is given the full treatment. The Intensity slider controls how strongly the grain is applied to the highlight areas.


While the Film Grain filter adjusts the amount of grain and how the granules are applied to highlights, the Grain plug-in works with contrast (the darkness of the grain in relation to the image area surrounding it) plus the shape of the granules. You can also control how much grain is added. The ten available types of grain cover several varieties often seen in photographs, plus some new ones that offer imaginative artistic effects. You can choose from regular, soft, sprinkles, clumped, contrasty, enlarged, stippled, horizontal, vertical, or speckle grain patterns. It's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between some of these effects. For example, the Stippled effect uses foreground and background colors to create grain, while Sprinkles uses just the foreground color.

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