Film Simulation Review: Abandoned RV Dealer with Kodak Portra 400

Journal – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”

I recently stumbled upon an abandoned RV dealership in North Salt Lake, Utah. It’s been vandalized. Broken glass and graffiti abound. Nature is doing its thing, too. It’s significantly dilapidated.

Hugh’s R.V. apparently hasn’t been closed for very long, I believe less than two years, but the building looks like it has been abandoned for a decade or more. One of the reviews I found for this place stated that it looked dilapidated—this was when it was still open!—so it was already in a state of disrepair prior to abandonment, and that partially explains why it looks so bad now. Perhaps more than anything, people have just trashed it since it closed.

I captured Hugh’s R.V. with my Fujifilm X100V using my Kodak Portra 400 film simulation recipe. I love how this recipe looks for many things, including structures. Really, it was an easy choice! This particular film simulation recipe could be many people’s “only” recipe. It’s good for such varied situations, and an abandoned building in afternoon light is no exception. This Portra 400 recipe on the X100V is an especially great combination, and a one camera, one lens, one recipe philosophy could be embraced. I appreciate the film-like aesthetic of my Portra 400 settings.

My challenge to you is for one week (or at least one day if that’s too much) use one camera with one lens and one film simulation recipe. If you don’t have an X100V, that’s no problem, just use what you do have. I think the restriction will empower your creativity. Limitations improve art. If you accept this challenge, let me know in the comments which camera, lens and recipe you plan to use, and also report how it goes. I look forward to your feedback!

Hugh’s R.V. – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”
Hugh’s Graffiti – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”
Closed Circuit – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”
ERNL – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”
Open Door, Broken Window – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”
Trash in the Shadow – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”
Tubes & Tablets – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”
Out of Office – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Portra 400”

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Film Simulation Review: Changing Light, Part 2: Ilford HP5 Plus

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Clouds On Top – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

Changing Light, Part 1: Velvia

I get asked sometimes how do I decide between color and black-and-white. I don’t remember where I heard this, but a long time ago somebody told me that if color is important to the scene then it should be a color picture, and if it’s not it should be black-and-white. Back then you had to make this decision before loading your camera with 24 or 36 exposures. Nowadays you can wait until after capturing the picture before deciding, although I find it best to choose before making the exposure.

Color pictures are (primarily) about three things: light, shadow and color. Black-and-white pictures are (primarily) about two things: light and shadow. It’s easy to see that if color isn’t an essential element to the picture, then it only serves as a distraction to light and shadow; however, that’s an oversimplified way of looking at it. There are many different color theories, and whether color is important or unimportant is highly subjective. One thing is for certain: black-and-white pictures are about light and shadow and those in-between grays.

Whenever I photograph in monochrome my mentality changes. They way that I look at the scene is different. When I photograph in color, I look for color. When I photograph in black-and-white, I look for tones. That’s why it’s important for me to decide before capturing the picture whether it will be color or not. For the pictures in this article, I decided that they needed to be monochrome. I chose my Ilford HP5 Plus film simulation recipe because I thought it would offer me the right amount of contrast. It’s not my most contrasty black-and-white recipe, but it has a good amount of contrast—not too much or too little. I think it was a great choice for these scenes.

I captured these pictures over the last several days from my house. I didn’t go anywhere. There were a lot of clouds and the light on the mountain was constantly changing. Oftentimes it was rather dull, but sometimes it was amazing! The camera I used was a Fujifilm X-T30. Most often I used a Fujinon 100-400mm lens, but occasionally I used a Fujinon 90mm. These longer focal lengths allowed me to “bring close” the mountain, making it appear as though I was in them, and not at a distance. Sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere to capture interesting pictures. That’s especially true if you have a great view where you are.

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Wasatch with Snow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Dramatic Sky Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Silver Sky Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Clouds Over the Peak – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Clouds Around the Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Mountain Top – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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White Cloud – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Cloud Reaching – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Clouds & Dark Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Lightly Snowing On Top – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Gray Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Obscurity – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Mountain Rain Shower – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Downpour – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Mountain Mist – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Francis Peak Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Monochrome Radar – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Dark Hills – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Storm Over Dark Mountains – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Storm – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Clouds on the Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Covered by Clouds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Film Simulation Review: Changing Light, Part 1: Velvia

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Wasatch Spring – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

Over the last few days I’ve captured a number of pictures from my house of the nearby Wasatch Mountains. I’m very fortunate that I live so close to such a majestic and beautiful landscape. I can see it from my living room. I can sit on my patio and watch the light change and the seasons change on the mountains. It’s right there! I feel very lucky to witness this and be able to capture it with my camera.

It’s been between overcast and partly-cloudy lately, with conditions changing rapidly and dramatically. It’s gone from fairly uninteresting to amazing and back to mostly uninteresting in a matter of moments. This has repeated over and over. I’ve tried to keep an eye out for it, and tried to be quick enough to photograph it before it disappeared. That’s not always possible, and many times I wasn’t successful, but sometimes I was.

The film simulation recipe that I chose for these pictures is my Velvia recipe (I also used my Ilford HP5 Plus recipe, and those pictures are in Part 2). These settings are bold and vibrant, much like actual Velvia film. I really appreciate this film simulation recipe for landscape photography where I want colors to pop. The mountain is covered in the fresh green of spring, and these settings are the best for highlighting that. If I want vivid colors, my Velvia recipe is what I choose.

The gear that I used for these pictures is a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 100-400mm lens attached to it. I like to use a tripod or monopod with the 100-400mm lens, but these pictures are all hand-held. If I had waited to attach a tripod to the lens, I would have missed many of these shots. The long telephoto lens allows me to bring the mountains up-close, like I travelled into the mountains to capture these pictures, yet I didn’t even leave home. It really is amazing that I was able to make these photographs without going anywhere.

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Clearing Clouds Above the Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Cold Spring – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Francis Peak Veiled – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Mist – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Spring Green Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain in May – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Radar – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Sliver of Illumination – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Spring Green Hill – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Wasatch Green – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

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Mountain Spring – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 100-400mm

Changing Light, Part 2: Ilford HP5 Plus
See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Film Simulation Review: Kodak Portra 400 – New vs. Original

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

I have two different Kodak Portra 400 film simulation recipes. I created the original Portra 400 recipe two years ago on my old Fujifilm X100F. I created the new Portra 400 recipe just recently on my Fujifilm X-T30. Which one is better? Which should you use? How do they compare?

The original recipe requires a hard-to-achieve custom white balance measurement, and for that reason I never really liked it. Yes, it looks good, but to get the recipe right requires a vague setting. Some people, in lieu of the custom white balance measurement, use auto-white-balance, which is a fair way to deal with the issue. On my X-T30 I don’t think I have the custom white balance quite right, but it was as close as I could get at the time that I took the measurement. The original Portra 400 recipe is one of the most frustrating recipes I’ve created, but it also produces great results sometimes.

The new Portra 400 recipe is a little more accurate to the film, in my opinion. Of course, with film, depending on how it’s shot, developed, printed or scanned, results can vary greatly. While I think the new version is more accurate, that’s not to say that the original version isn’t accurate. It’s just a little different look. In this post are examples of pictures captured with both recipes side-by-side.

Which one is the better Kodak Portra 400 recipe? The new version is easier to program, overall a little more accurate to the film, and in many situations I like it better; however, sometimes I prefer the original Portra 400 recipe. I can’t tell you which one is better for you, but I can tell you for me, I like the new recipe better, yet I see that the original version has its place and shouldn’t be discarded. That’s just my tastes, and yours might be different. Hopefully seeing the two recipes next to each other provides you with some clarity on which to choose.

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Film Simulation Review: Dreary Day with Fujicolor Superia 800

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Gone Fishin’ – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

I get asked frequently what film simulation recipes are good for which situations. It can be hard to know when to use each one. When faced with a scene, which recipe should you choose? I hope that this Film Simulation Review series helps to bring clarity to this.

On grey-sky days there’s one film simulation recipe that I love to use: Fujicolor Superia 800. When I invented this recipe, I had no idea how good it was for dreary days. Fuji X Weekly reader Luis Costa shared his use of this recipe on a grey day, and it blew me away! Ever since, when there’s overcast sky and a little rain, for color pictures, my Fujicolor Superia 800 film simulation recipe is what I use.

This series of pictures were captured on a recent dreary day using the Superia 800 recipe. I used a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens attached to it. This 90mm lens can be difficult to use just because of its focal length, which is full-frame equivalent to 135mm, but it delivers excellent results. It’s super sharp and nearly flawless. It’s such a great lens!

My Superia 800 recipe is based on Fujicolor Superia X-tra 800 film. Fujifilm introduced this consumer grade high ISO color negative film in 1998 and discontinued it in 2016. It was a common film to find at the local store. It was an excellent choice for low-light situations, and it was commonly used by photojournalists. All of the pictures in this article are camera-made JPEGs using my Superia 800 film simulation recipe.

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Raining in the Alley – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Goodyear – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Drop in the Bucket – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Wet Slide – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Wish Maker – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Green – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Drop of Water on a Blackberry Leaf – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Green Tree Tops – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Trees – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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King – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Catching a Lost Float – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Geese – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Swimming Duck – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Film Simulation Review: Walk in the Park, Part 2: Kodak Portra 160

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Pathway Through the Trees – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Part 1: Kodak Ektar 100

In Part 1, I hiked a path in a local park using my Ektar recipe. Part 2, which is what you are reading now, are the pictures from my stroll back down the trail using my Kodak Portra 160 film simulation recipe. As before, the gear I used was a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it. The only thing that I did differently was select my Portra 160 recipe instead of Ektar. I mentioned in the previous article that my Ektar film simulation has high contrast and perhaps is not ideal because of that. Since my Portra 160 recipe has very low contrast, would it be a better option?

Actual Portra 160 is a low contrast, low saturation film intended for portrait photography. It wasn’t made for landscape photography, but sometimes a low contrast, low saturation film is what’s needed. The same is true for this film simulation recipe. It might be too dull for landscape photography, but sometimes it might fit the scene well. In this case, it balances the high contrast landscapes quite well. If what you are photographing has bright highlights and deep shadows, Portra 160 might be a good option to combat that. However, if it’s low contrast, a film simulation recipe like Ektar could be a better choice.

The day of the hike was a beautiful blue-sky spring day with lots of sunshine. There are an abundance of those type of days in Utah during this time of year. It’s perfect for a walk in the park with a camera in hand. Choosing a film simulation for such an outing can be a difficult choice because you have so many options. It’s important to judge the light and subject to determine what might serve it best. The photographs in this article are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs using my Kodak Portra 160 film simulation recipe.

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Finally Spring – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Mountain Behind The Trees – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Sunlight Through The Branches – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Lake Peek – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Can’t See the Lake for the Trees – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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White Trees & Fingernail Moon – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Oh, Deer – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Rock & Log – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Trees & Creek – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Forest Creek – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Film Simulation Review: Walk in the Park, Part 1: Kodak Ektar 100

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April Forest – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Last week I went for a walk in a local park here in Utah. This park has trails that pass through forests. There’s a stream and a small lake. The snow-capped peaks are visible to the east. It’s a beautiful place, especially in the spring when the green is fresh and the flowers are blossomed. On this hike I brought along my Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it, which is one of my absolute favorite lenses. It’s sharp, small, and plenty fast, plus it’s a versatile focal length. On the way up the trail I used my Kodak Ektar 100 film simulation recipe, which are the pictures that you see here in Part 1, and on the way back down I used my Portra 160 recipe, which you’ll find in Part 2.

Ektar is a color negative film made by Kodak. It’s known for vibrant colors, high contrast and fine grain. It’s the closest negative film to reversal film. In fact, when Kodak discontinued Ektachrome 100VS, they recommended Ektar 100 as the best alternative. It’s a great film for landscape photography, which is why I chose it for this walk in the park.

Ektar film, and especially this Ektar film simulation, can be difficult to use because of the contrast. With the film, there are things that can be done in development and/or printing to reduce the contrast if it’s too much. With these settings, one could use +2 Shadow instead of +3, which is what the recipe calls for, if they wanted less contrast. These pictures are straight-out-of-camera (with the exception of some minor cropping) with the  settings exactly as the recipe states.

My opinion is that my Ektar recipe is best suited for low-contrast landscapes, where a boost in contrast and vibrancy is needed. But it can do well in other situations, as well. I thought it served this photographic outing well, although it was borderline too contrasty for the scene. Ektar was a good choice for a walk in the park, but was it the best choice? How does it compare to Portra 160? We’ll take a look at that in Part 2.

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Sunlight Through The Leaves – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Old Log – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Forest Stream – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Stream & Yellow Flower – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Single Tree Blossom – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Green Tree, White Tree – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Blossoming Branches – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Walk in the Park, Part 2: Portra 160
See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Film Simulation Review: Waiting With Fujicolor 100 Industrial

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Waiting Outside – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

My Fujicolor 100 Industrial film simulation recipe is very underrated. I don’t hear many people talk about it. This recipe doesn’t get nearly as many views as some of my other ones, perhaps because the film that it mimics isn’t especially well known. Make no mistake, this recipe is one of the best! If you’ve never tried it, I invite you to do so.

This particular film simulation recipe pairs well with urban scenes. It’s good for more than just that, but a downtown environment seems to be where this recipe does its best work. These photographs aren’t urban, but my Fujicolor 100 Industrial recipe was a good choice for this series.

Anytime can be a good time for photography. Take a camera with you wherever you go, and you’ll be surprised at the photographic opportunities that present themselves. This series of pictures was captured while waiting in line to get inside of Costco, and I was able to do this because I had my Fujifilm X-T30 with me, which had a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it. With what’s going on in the world, there’s a line to even get inside of the store to shop. I used the wait as an opportunity to create some pictures. This is no special event. The lighting wasn’t extraordinary. It was unremarkable. Despite that, there were pictures worth capturing, images worth creating, even in an ordinary moment. Use the ordinary moments in life as photographic opportunities.

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Architecture of Costco – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Green Tree & Roof – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Removing Gloves – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Pushing Baskets – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Distancing – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Guy in a Red Shirt – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Cart Man – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Red & Silver Carts – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

See also: Film Simulation Reviews