Digital Innovations
Analog Filters In A Digital World; Only The Strong Survive

"I always have a quotation for everything, it saves original thinking."
--Dorothy L. Sayers

Color filters for photography are often identified by their Wratten numbers, but who is this Wratten guy? Wratten & Wainwright made photo materials for commercial printing and by 1909 had established the Wratten system and published The Photography Of Coloured Objects. In 1912 George Eastman acquired the company and Wratten became a standard for filters used in photography, astronomy, and other applications.

This photograph was made when Great Race 2005 had an overnight stop in Westminster, Colorado. The event is open to cars 45 years old or older and some, like this 1931 Studebaker President convertible, were "older." I made this photograph with a Canon EOS 20D with an 18-55mm EF-S lens set at 18mm sitting on the ground in front of the car while it was stopped waiting for the car in front of it to move. Exposure at ISO 800--it was dusk when the cars arrived--was 1/250 sec at f/9 in Program mode.
All Photos © 2005, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved


A Great Race image like that of the Studebaker needed something to give it an old-fashioned feel. Since I didn't use any in camera or on-camera filters I resorted to a software filter to produce this effect with Adobe Photoshop CS2 along with nik Color Efex's (www.nikmultimedia.com) Old Photo: Color filter.

How About A Digital Wratten?
With the launch of Photoshop CS, Adobe (www.adobe.com) attempted to integrate "real" camera filters into the program with the Photo Filter command (Image>Adjustments>Photo Filter) that is located inextricably in the Image menu and not under Filters. Only a few filters with Wratten numbers appear in its pop-up menu, the rest are kinda generic, although the "Underwater" filter is awesome for photographers who know the difference between Scuba and Scooby-Doo.

With Photoshop CS and continued in CS2, Adobe added a Photo Filter menu that included some real, along with some useful, and just fanciful implementations of camera filters.

FilterSim (www.mediachance.com/digicam/filtersim.htm) is a free Windows-only program that lets you apply Wratten color correction filters to digital images, even ones originally shot on film. FilterSim's interface sports Before and After windows and when selecting a filter from a pop-up menu the effect appears in the After window! The program's Auto Compensation feature corrects for the effect (a digital filter factor?) and may be turned on or off, but all of my best images were produced with this feature checked "on."

FilterSim is a "free" Windows-based program that lets you apply Wratten color correction filters to warm up or cool off a digital image, even one that was originally shot on film.

MediaChance (www.mediachance.com) also offers Photo-Brush, a wonderfully inventive program that combines image editing with artistic media painting. Version 3.5 includes raw file support for more than 100 different cameras and not only accepts Photoshop compatible plug-ins but reads and writes PSD files. Photo-Brush has all the expected tools for manipulating and adjusting digital images, including Levels, Gamma, Curves, Hue/Saturation, Brightness/Contrast, and works with Pressure Sensitive tablets to produce texture painting. Using its Cloning tool, you can turn your photos into paintings. Oh yeah, Photo-Brush costs $45.

MediaChance's Photo-Brush is a wonderfully inventive program that combines image editing with artistic media painting. Version 3.5 adds raw file support for over 100 different cameras and not only accepts Photoshop compatible plug-ins but reads and writes Photoshop's PSD files.

Plug-In Filter Of The Month
Alien Skin Software's Eye Candy 5: Impact (www.alienskin.com) contains 10 plug-in filters for Photoshop and compatible programs. This third update to Eye Candy 4000 features three new filters--Backlight, Brushed Metal, and Extrude--and seven updated oldies but goodies. Impact works with 16-bit and CMYK images, making color transitions smoother, with less banding. Unlimited undo and redo make experimentation painless, while context-sensitive Help answers your questions. Impact costs $99 but registered users get a discount when ordering direct.

Backlight projects light beams and spotlight effects behind any selection. Bevel carves and embosses, creating text with custom bevel shapes and textures. Brushed Metal simulates textured metal surfaces and produces a reflective, embossed effect, simulating chrome, liquid metal, and other shiny surfaces. Extrude gives 2D objects a 3D look, adding thickness and perspective. Glass renders a colorful gel layer over selections and Gradient Glow creates soft glows or hard outlines around any selection, including single colors or complex gradients. Motion Trail creates the illusion of rapid movement, even in a curved line. Perspective Shadow renders an array of drop, perspective, and cast shadows. Super Star generates shapes, including stars, flowers, and gears.

Impact is a set of 10 plug-in filters for Adobe Photoshop and other compatible programs that includes the Backlight filter that projects light beams and spotlight effects behind any selection.

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