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Bad Effects from Film to Photoshop


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Bad Effects from Film to Photoshop

12 Jun 2020 9:03PM   Views : 432 Unique : 307

Altering images and getting them looking seriously bad (you read that correctly) isn't just a recent phenomenon.

Photographers of a certain age will remember French photographer Jean Coquin.

Jean Coquin was responsible for the invention of the Cokin filter system. It was very popular and spawned the introduction of similar systems. The idea was to have one size of filter which fitted in a holder that in turn could be attached to an adaptor ring that screwed onto the lens. So if you had several lenses with different filter threads you only needed to buy one set of filters. A very good principle, in fact very popular and very handy.

Warming and cooling filters for colour correction or enhancement, for example the 81 series warming filters, were very useful and an essential part of a photographer's kit especially for those landscapes and portraits. Polarisers and graduated neutral density filters are still useful. So far so good.

But there were those filters that had limited appeal or use, such as graduated tobacco coloured filters to give an alien sky to landscapes. A graduated orange may on the face of it be OK to 'enhance' a weak sunset it would look unnatural. It'd be useful to deepen a blue sky on black and white film though. Then we move onto the multi-starbursts, diffraction filters and more. The starbursts and cross screen filters could make a complete mess of a decent scene. Small starbursts are formed naturally with a lens set to a small aperture in any case. Wacky once, then cliched. Not to be used again.


This image of St. Malo in northern France was taken in 1991 and that is a genuine tobacco filter (oh yes I admit to having one), not recreated in software. Adding an overall warm tone helps to make it more like a sunrise but not totally convincing. Fortunately a conversion to mono results in a much more pleasing image.



The use of the weird and wonderful effects was a 1980s trend (it was a time of excess in many ways) which faded during the 1990s. I must point out that there were other makers of outlandish filters though Cokin through their marketing and ease of use became synonymous.

Fads went and trends changed. Just as we thought we were safe along came Adobe (and others). While there were very useful image adjustment tools such as boosting contrast and warming up a cold image there were new image processing methods. These were accessed from a 'Filter' menu. The bread and butter colour correction tools were placed under an 'Adjustments' menu, much more logical (and boring perhaps). Those 'filters' though offered something exciting. You may think some of the weird effects below are cool. Today. Tomorrow you won't. I just chose some at random.


Rectangular to Polar





Now we have apps on phones adding to the mix. Surprise surprise, they have controls called 'filters'. There's something intoxicating about that word that is so appealing. For a minute or two anyway. In a few years those effects will be 'oh that's so 2020'.

Just because you can use an effect doesn't mean you have to. Like winding your windows down when you go through a car wash. You can...

All text and images Keith Rowley 2020

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altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
13 Jun 2020 3:00PM
I have one or two Cokin effects filters left over from the 80's plus some others that came free with purchased old cameras. Using the less extreme ones on a film camera seems sort of OK sometimes, I think that a light tobacco one could be useful but best not overdone. I have a multi faceted thing which I used on a chandelier photo once recently, just looks wrong. Cokin did produce some nice catalogues at one time with interesting images in, if you like that sort of thing. As you say, best left alone.
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.5k 89 Norway
13 Jun 2020 4:19PM
I remember going totally overboard with Cokins on the end of whatever lens it wsa I had on my T70 at the time. Multi-faceted, starbursts - 2 or 3 of those, adding different numbers of light-point stars...using multiple filters on one image. I would perhaps compare it with the recent trend of overdoing HDR effects, or more recently covering everything with a texture layer...thank goodness one grows out of the novelty - well, some of us do, at least.Wink
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
13 Jun 2020 5:43PM
I'd forgotten about the multifaceted ones Richard. I seem to recall now that there were 4 and 7 faceted ones, and didn't something like that get used on Top of the Pops?

I agree about HDR Malc. I might think about textures for a future blog.
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.5k 89 Norway
13 Jun 2020 5:52PM
Yes...TOTP was fond of using the multi-faceted filter - they used if quite a lot! I think it was the 7 facet version...
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
13 Jun 2020 6:21PM
I have just found my box of Cokin filters. The multi one was called 'Multimages x 5 A' No 201. It had 4 facets and the central hole makes 5. It is clear and about 12mm thick.Price sticker still on the case - 5.93.
I couldn't find the original of a ceiling lamp photo I took with it in a dark church so I did a quick shot just now, not the most appropriate subject.

dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
14 Jun 2020 8:17PM

Quote:not the most appropriate subject

I think most of us would struggle to find something appropriate. Thnks for the contribution Richard.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
7 Sep 2020 12:05PM
Looking back at my Cokin filters, and especially using them again for an article a couple of years back, it's important to use the right aperture... Even the multifaceted ones can look OK, for one subject in a few hundred...

We all got carried away by the striking results that Francisco Hidlago achieved - for a few years, his postcards of London were in every tourist shop in the capital, and I think he did similar work in other cities around Europe. The nature of things is that there's very little obvious online legacy - just a few old postcards in forgotten drawers.

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