How to Know Which Film Simulation Recipe to Use?

Tunnel Silhouette – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm GFX-50S – “Classic Negative Industrial

I posted last week that the Fuji X Weekly App contains 200 film simulation recipes for Fujifilm cameras! A question that I frequently get asked is, “How do I know which film simulation recipe to use in a specific situation?”

If you crossed out the words “simulation recipe” from that question, you’d have a very common inquiry from the film era. Back then, at any given time, there were just as many (if not more) film choices as there are film simulation recipe choices today—especially at the height of film in the late-1990’s and early-2000’s. Over the years there have been hundreds and hundreds of emulsions, maybe over a thousand. How does one know which film to use?

It’s a little easier today because there are far fewer film choices (but there’s still a lot!). Do you want color or black-and-white? That’s where I always started. What’s the lighting going to be? That helps decide the ISO that will be needed. Also, if color, will I need daylight or tungsten balanced? What filters might I need? Those are important factors to consider. Do I want low contrast or high (although how I shoot and develop factors significantly into this)? If color, low saturation or high? These questions and more, which are asked before the camera is even loaded, helps determine the film choice.

Grandmother & Grandson – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100

The two biggest factors, however, for my film choice decision were usually these: availability and experience. While there were hundreds to choose from, I might only have five or six different emulsions in the refrigerator at any given time. If I was going to buy some film before heading out or in preparation for it, I would be limited by the availability of the store, and that might be 10 emulsions or 100, depending on the place. A lot of times it would come down to what I’d used in the past and had success with. After awhile you figure out which options work for you. I liked to try different films just to see what I might get, but I often found myself returning to the ones that I really liked, which explains those five or six in the fridge.

With film simulation recipes, some of the same factors that determined which film to use can also help to determine which recipe to use. Color or black-and-white? Daylight or tungsten? High contrast or low contrast? High saturation or low saturation? A big difference is that you are not limited to “the stock in your fridge” or what a store might carry. And maybe you don’t have a lot of experience with them to know which recipes might work well in a specific scenario. The more experience you get, the more you’ll know, but that takes time, perhaps years, of using different recipes in various situations.

My hope in the coming year is to do a lot more to help with this. I want to make it easier for people to determine which recipes might be good options in whichever photographic situations that they find themselves in. This, of course, is a pretty monumental challenge, not only because there are so many recipes (and always more in the works!), but because there are more potential photographic situations than there are recipes. This is something that books could be written about. Even so, I will do my best with this project, because I want it to be easier for you to determine which recipes to use when.

Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – “Acros

That’s great for the future, but what about now? What resources are available today to determine which recipe to program into your Fujifilm camera for whatever it is that you’re about to shoot?

The Fuji X Weekly App is a good starting point. If you are not already, become an App Patron so that you can unlock the ability to filter. Select your camera or sensor, then choose color or black-and-white, or a specific film simulation if you know that you want an aesthetic a certain film simulation produces. You can also filter by White Balance, which can potentially be helpful if you have an idea of the lighting conditions you’ll encounter, or Dynamic Range, which can potentially be helpful if you know how harsh the light will be. These tools help to determine which recipe to use by filtering out the ones that might not be good options.

Otherwise, my Film Simulation Reviews page and the SOOC video series are two other resources that might be helpful. Film Simulation Reviews are articles that show specific recipes in specific situations, so if you find yourself in a similar situation you can know how that recipe will do (whether good or bad). It’s not nearly as robust of a library as I’d like it to be, but it might be helpful nonetheless. In the SOOC videos, not only is a specific recipe discussed and used, but, in the “Special Occasions” segment, recipes for specific scenarios are suggested. Be sure to visit YouTube.com/c/FujiXWeekly to find those videos.

Flying Seagull – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Velvia v2

Of course, the sample pictures within the recipes are intended to give you a clue if it might be a good choice or not. I can’t provide sample pictures captured in every photographic genre and every lighting condition, but I try to provide a good mix to help you know whether it might work well for you or not. If you haven’t spent much time viewing the sample images, it might be worth your time to look longer at them. If you are a Fuji X Weekly App Patron, when you encounter a recipe that you think might work for you based on the sample pictures, use one of the Star colors to mark it, so that you can revisit it whenever you’re ready to program a recipe into your camera.

Much like with film, perhaps the best way to know whether a recipe will work well for your specific photographic situation is with experience. If you try it and it does well, now you know. And if it doesn’t, now you know. Program seven recipes into your C1-C7 Custom Presets, and see how they do. You can use the colored Stars in the App to help you keep track of which ones you especially like (maybe use green stars) and which ones you especially don’t (perhaps use red stars). After that, try another seven recipes.

I wish that I had a more helpful response to, “How do I know which film simulation recipe to use in a specific situation?” There are as many potential photographic situations as there are film simulation recipes to choose from, and it’s not always easy to determine which ones are best for what. The Fuji X Weekly App has some great tools that can help, and there are other resources, too, but the best answer is that it takes experience, which you’ll get as you try them out in various scenarios. The more you shoot with them, the more you’ll know which ones are good options for whatever situation you’re in. In the coming year I want to do more to help with this, so that there’s a little less trial-and-error involved on your part, and those with little or no experience don’t have quite as steep of a learning curve to climb. I have a long ways to go, but I am determined to make this website a better resource for those trying to figure out which recipes to program into their Fujifilm camera.

How To Use The Fuji X Weekly App (Videos)

I’ve been asked a few times recently to demonstrate through video how to use the Fuji X Weekly App. How do you get the most out of it? Some people are visual learners, and seeing it done makes much more sense than reading about it. If that’s you, this post is intended to help you.

I don’t currently have any videos that demonstrates this, as my two (below) only give a brief glimpse. They’re promotional videos and not how-to, although you can likely glean the gist of how it all works from them. I’m not really a “video guy” (just lightly dabble, I guess), so it’s not easy for me to whip something up real quick. However, I hope this article is helpful to you, as I share what is on YouTube regarding this. There are several great resources out there.

The SOOC series is a good starting point. For those who may not know, SOOC is a monthly live video series, with each episode focused on a different film simulation recipe. It is a collaboration between Tame Your Fujifilm (Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry) and Fuji X Weekly (Ritchie Roesch). SOOC is a fun and educational experience where we not only talk about Fujifilm camera settings, but also answer your questions and give tips and tricks. Basically, we’re trying to help you master your Fujifilm camera, with a focus on simplifying your photographic workflow.

As a part of this, Nathalie and I discuss and even demonstrate aspects of the Fuji X Weekly App. So if you are trying to understand how to use the App and how to get the most out of it, you without a doubt want to watch these episodes! They’re quite long, so under each video I’ve put a time that you should skip ahead to if you don’t want to watch the whole thing.

Skip to 48:43 & 1:06:30
Skip to 32:32
Skip to 23:58
Skip to 42:46 & 49:43
Skip to 21:00 & 29:20

Those SOOC episodes are great resources, and if you have the time I recommend watching them in their entirety. But if not, just skip ahead to those times under each video. Be sure to tune in on December 9th to catch Episode 06, as we will certainly discuss the App even more!

While I don’t have videos that show how to use the Fuji X Weekly App, other people have made some great videos that demonstrate how to do it! Yea! You’ll find these below—I’m sure they’ll be helpful to you.

Hopefully those above videos are great resources to you and will help you understand how to use the App. For those who prefer written words, check out these articles:

How To Add Film Simulation Recipes To Your Fujifilm Camera
Fuji X Weekly App: Filtering by Camera or Sensor?
Why You Should Become A Fuji X Weekly App Patron
Current 10 FXW App Patron Early-Access Recipes
Sneak Peek At The Fuji X Weekly App Update

The Journey Is The Destination, Part 2: Time to Eat

Empty Diner – Reno, NV – Fujifilm X100V – “Xpro ’62” – 4/21/2021

Part 1: Getting Gas Part 3: Lodging Locations

I love road trips! Given the choice to drive or fly, I’ll pick drive every time. Unfortunately, when I’m trying to get somewhere by car, I’m often trying to get there, wherever “there” is, and I don’t spend enough time enjoying the in-between. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously stated, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Dan Eldon shortened it to, “The journey is the destination.” What makes a road trip special is not where you’re going, but the experiences along the way.

This photoessay series is entitled The Journey is the Destination, and includes pictures of those in-between places. Each article in this series will have a different theme. This one is called Time to Eat, and it features photographs captured at food stops while on some adventure somewhere. I’m usually pretty eager to photograph when on road trips, so even breakfast, lunch or dinner gets the attention of my camera lens.

You won’t see any pictures of my food—that’s not the point of this article—these are simply photographs that I captured at these restaurant stops. If I had started out with this series in mind, I probably would have approached it a little differently. Still, when placed together, these otherwise unrelated images tell a story. I hope that you enjoy!

Color

Rural Diner – Tremonton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 1600” – 7/2/2020
Available Building – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100” – 7/2/2020
This Restaurant is Closed – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100” – 7/2/2020
Lunch Date – Polson, MT – Fujifilm X100V – “Agfa Vista 100” – 7/8/2020
Cigarettes – Reno, NV – Fujifilm X100V – “Xpro ’62” – 4/21/2021
Wall Harley – Reno, NV – Fujifilm X100V – “Xpro ’62” – 4/21/2021
Kitchen – Waco, TX – Fujifilm X100F – “Cross Process” – 8/2/2018
McTaos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – “Kodachrome II” – 7/27/2018
McDiner – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – “Kodachrome II” – 7/27/2018
Steaks & BBQ – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – “Classic Chrome” – 3/14/2018
Neon Pink – Glendale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Velvia” – 5/11/2019
Grease Work – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell” – 7/2/2020
Drive Thru – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell” – 7/2/2020
Out of Order – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell” – 7/2/2020
Frostor – Ashton, ID – Fujifilm X100F – “Classic Chrome” – 9/13/2017
Lunchtime Rain – Lynnwood, WA – Fujifilm X100F – “Classic Chrome” – 11/16/2017

B&W

9:30 – Tremonton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Tri-X 400” – 7/2/2020
Gamers Cafe – Butte, MT – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Tri-X 400” – 7/11/2020
Kitchen Window – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – “Agfa Scala” – 8/6/2018
Man in the Hat – Polson, MT – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Tri-X 400” – 7/10/2020
Knead & Feed Cafe – Coupeville, WA – Fujifilm X100F – “Acros Push-Process” – 11/17/2017

I’m on the FujiLove Podcast!

FujiLove Magazine has a podcast, and on their latest episode I’m the special guest! If you have 45 minutes to spare and want to listen to a conversation about Fujifilm, film simulation recipes, and the Fuji X Weekly App, be sure to check it out!

This is a big deal because they’ve had some really big names, not just in the Fujifilm community, but the photography community, on their show. You’ll find episodes with Pete Souza, Kevin Mullins, Jack Graham, Adam Gibbs, and many, many more. I’m very honored and humbled. Thank you, FujiLove, for having me on your show!

My Fujifilm JPEG Journey

Hidden Church – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T200

I didn’t always shoot JPEGs. I used to shoot RAW. Now with Fujifilm cameras I am a JPEG guy, and I’m inspiring many others to shoot JPEGs, too.

This is my journey.

I learned photography in the film era just before digital photography became a big thing. I didn’t like digital photography in those early days—I could spot a digital picture pretty easily. I resisted buying a digital camera for about 10 years. Technology changes quickly, and digital camera technology advanced to a point that it made sense for me to jump in. I’ve been primarily shooting digital for a little over 10 years now; I still shoot film, although since using Fujifilm cameras I’ve shot a lot less of it.

When I started in digital photography, I took the advice that is often given to newcomers: shoot RAW. JPEGs are terrible, so if you’re serious, shoot RAW. I didn’t initially heed this advice as the learning curve for RAW editing software is steep, but I quickly learned a tough lesson. I was in Sedona, Arizona, at Red Rock Crossing at sunset with a clearing storm, photographing the iconic Cathedral Rock with the Oak Creek in the foreground. It was incredible! I shot it with the camera set to JPEG. Later, when I reviewed the pictures on my computer, I discovered that the JPEGs were simply awful! I tried to “fix” them in software, but it was simply a missed opportunity. That’s why you shoot RAW.

One of the problems with RAW is that it can take a lot of time to edit, or really develop, the images. Some pictures can be quick, but some can take hours. I once had a particular brand of camera with a unique three-layer sensor, and it would often take 30 minutes to an hour or more to get a finished picture from a RAW file. It was painfully slow! I spent a lot of time sitting at the computer editing pictures. I tried to find shortcuts to speed up the process, but editing still took up a significant chunk of my time.

Blue Mountain Lake – Flathead Lake, MT – Fujifilm X-T30

My first Fujifilm camera was an X-E1 that I purchased used. I immediately loved it, but I did not understand how great the JPEGs were. I was still a RAW shooter. I did some RAW+JPEG with that camera, and I was impressed that the JPEGs actually looked pretty good. Several months later I purchased a Fujifilm X100F. While shooting RAW+JPEG on the X100F, I began to notice that the straight-out-of-camera JPEGs looked an awful lot like the RAW images that I had spent time post-processing. It was a lightbulb moment.

I began to experiment with the different JPEG settings and I realized that I could achieve in-camera different looks that I liked. I’m not 100% sure where the term “recipe” came from—if it was something that I invented or if someone else came up with it first—but I began to create film simulation recipes (sets of JPEG settings) for my X100F. The very first recipe was simply called “Acros” and I published it on August 27, 2017. It was the fifth post on this blog. My “Classic Chrome” film simulation recipe was published later that same day. I stopped shooting RAW and relied entirely on camera-made JPEGs.

I thought it truly amazing that high-quality pictures that looked like post-processed RAW images could come straight-out-of-camera. It felt good to not spend hours and hours sitting in front of a computer editing pictures. What was most meaningful to me is the time that shooting JPEGs saved me. Suddenly I had a lot more free time, which I spent on two things: my family and photography. My family life improved while my photography simultaneously became significantly more productive. It may seem like hyperbole to state that it changed my life, but it really did!

Time went on and my film simulation recipes were noticed by others. They spread by word of mouth, and more and more photographers began to use them. The more that I experimented, the more creative I got with the settings. I began to get requests to create different film looks. I collaborated with others on some settings. People began to create their own recipes, sharing them on social media. Film simulation recipes are now more than just JPEG presets, they bring people together, the foundation of community.

The way that the world is being captured today is in part through the filter of the film simulation recipes on this website. People across the globe, from new-to-photography to experienced-pro, are using these settings. I’m honored and humbled to influence photography in this way. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that these recipes have had an impact on their photography, either rejuvenating their passion or saving them time (or both).

Forsaken – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V

When I was in Photography 101 in college, my pictures weren’t as good as some of my classmates, and I wondered if I’d ever amount to anything as a photographer. Through various photographic failures that I’ve endured over the years, I wondered if I should keep pressing forward. When I began this blog three years ago, I wondered if anyone would even read it. There’s no need to wonder anymore, except perhaps to where all this might lead.

I don’t consider myself an influential photographer, but there’s no doubt that I’m influencing photography. The stigma attached to the camera-made JPEG is changing (in part) because of me. The aesthetic of today’s pictures is (in part) the recipes from this website. My reach on this website is worldwide and the audience much larger than I could have ever dreamed.

I still primarily shoot JPEGs, but I discovered along the way that film simulation recipes are much easier to create when you can reprocess RAW files, either in-camera or with X RAW Studio. Instead of strictly being a JPEG-only photographer, I use RAW+JPEG, but I still only use camera-made JPEGs. That’s what works for me.

Really, it’s about finding what works for you and your photography. RAW might work best for one person, RAW+JPEG for another, and JPEG-only for another. There’s no right or wrong way to do things. There’s advantages and disadvantages to each. Nobody should say that everyone should do things one way, or put people down for doing it different than them.

For myself and a growing group of photographers, using film simulation recipes on Fujifilm cameras is the preferred method. I’m a JPEG guy, or, really, RAW+JPEG. I get the pictures that I want straight-out-of-camera without the need for editing, except for minor cropping and occasional small adjustments, which I do on my phone. You won’t find me sitting at a computer fiddling with files. There’s no need to. That’s why I love Fujifilm JPEGs.