About Grain

This time I share my preferred grain presets for Capture One.

First of all, so I don’t have to come back to the subject. I hate grain. In situations where I need to take photos of people for documentary uses, there is no way I would add any grain to the photos. You don’t usually look photos at pixel level, but for example in group photos or photos where the person is not “filling the frame” You just loose all the details in the faces with additional grain. This is true for at least part of “street photography” as well as You probably sometimes want to see details of faces. And when You sell stuff and take photos of the stuff – well, no grain, please.

And I also love grain. I just love how the grain “constructs” some areas in photographed subject. Especially I love the bokeh area of a photo, when it is filled with grain. It just looks so right. And grain can also be used to “flatten” the look of otherwise contrasty photo, so much that we are talking about totally different look with or without grain.

One area of constant struggle for me is the amount of grain when I create a new style for Capture One. I see that certain grain setting adds to the mood of the photos, but when I see the grain destroying fine detail, I mostly end up making different versions of the style with different amount of grain.

My case example is my latest B&W -style, DoubleA. DoubleA -style came into existence as an attempt to have beautiful look for skin tones. But when the style was formulated I understood it had a lot of common with Kodak Eastman Double X -film and I wanted to add as authentic Double X -grain as possible to finish the look. And suddenly I had a style that looks gorgeous in the mood and in it’s analogueness, but the grain practically ruins the look of faces. And again I was forced to make some versions that had lowered grain to smoothen the skin.

In the end I did three versions of the DoubleA, one with very harsh grain, one with “medium” grain (a compromise that still has some amount of the grain look I see Double X to have) and one version with very low grain setting to enable those photos where the subject needs to look least “blotchy”.

Fuji’s Classic Chrome -curve in Capture One with my Harsh grain preset (this is used in DoubleA high grain -style)

My grain presets for Capture One practically cover all the styles I have made so far as many of the different styles have similar grain structure. I know that there are many grain presets available in Capture One already. But I soon found out that the ready made ones just don’t look the way I wanted grain to look in my styles. You might want to make Your own presets and that’s fine. But if You want to see what kind of presets I have seen beautiful for different purposes, be free to try mine. My presets are based on the look I try to create for viewing on the screen and thus they might not be ideal for printing. But without trying I cannot say for sure.

You can download my grain presets below:

And as usual, please feel free to comment how You see these presets.

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