Here are 42 photographs taken from a recent bridal collection shoot. I’ve shared them to show how I process my monochrome images using the new Acros film simulation from Fujifilm. Please feel free to read or just browse the pictures for ideas and inspiration.

acros film simulation showing wonderful tonal gradation

01. The Acros film simulation shows wonderful tonal gradation. I used the Acros G for this set of portraits. Read about my strategy and findings for the new Acros film simulations available in the Fuji X-Pro2. XF 90mm lens at f/2 and ISO 200. I used a monopod for all the photographs in this shoot to allow shutter speeds of 1/125th second with the XF 90mm lens.

The shoot: A commercial bridal fashion shoot for advertising, editorial and web use
Client: Abigail Westrup Bridal
Makeup and hair: Vicki Waghorn
Model: Victoria Bond
Location: Clevedon Hall
Photographer: Damien Lovegrove
Camera: Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF90mm lens – All pictures were captured in RAW and processed in Lightroom

I shot in RAW and used the Pro Neg S film simulation with H tone set to -1, S tone set to -1, Sharpness set to -2, Noise reduction set to -3 and the White balance set to K and carefully adjusted for each set up. The White balance is the only element that gets transferred to the RAW processing engine however the other factors give me the perfect image on the camera LCD to enable me to set the lighting contrast and exposure.

A variety of pictures showing the Acros film simulation.

02. Variety, detail and fun were the requirements for the shoot. Everything was captures in colour using the Pro Neg S film simulation and converted in Lightroom.

Acros film simulation

Of the four Acros film simulations available in the latest generation of Fuji X cameras Acros G is the one I use for portraits. The benefits of using Acros G over Acros, Acros R and Acros Ye for portraits is skin contrast is higher and the lips are more clearly defined irrespective of skin colour. Acros R tends to make skin blemish free but also ghostly and lacking in lustre. Acros Ye is generally considered best for landscapes giving more contrast to blue sky days, while the R and Ye options are very popular and for street and architecture along with the regular Acros.

Acros G versus B g

Acros G has a slightly steeper curve in the mid tones giving a touch more visual contrast than B g. My process for working with B g is to get the colour image right using Pro Neg S then make a virtual copy and switch camera profiles to B g before adding a touch of contrast. Now with Across I don’t need the last bit. That’s the obvious bit but there is also some alchemy going on at pixel level too. Acros G is more refined, it delivers more acutance than B g and this is a look that I like very much indeed.

03. Delicate beauty. I love this scoop neck line. It reminds me of a top that Jackie Onassis wore.

03. Delicate beauty. I love this scoop neck line. It reminds me of a top that Jackie Onassis was wearing back in 1960. (Just before my time).

Background

I spent 16 years working as a professional photographer processing my black and white negatives and then hand printing every photograph. For the final 4 years of my film life I had a darkroom technician to do the work with me because by that time we were shooting 30+ rolls of film each week. I went completely digital in 2001 when I bought a pair of Fujifilm S1 cameras and I have never looked back since.

The lessons I learned from film

The main thing I learned when shooting film is to be consistent. I started by testing every film that was available and I narrowed down my shortlist. I got to know the one or two films I was going to shoot on a regular basis really well so I could predict the look at the shoot and establish a house style. Then I tested and measured each emulsion through experimentation to discover the ideal formula for processing the negatives to achieve the kind of look I was after.  One film I used in 35mm cameras (Nikon F100) was Fuji Neopan 1600. I rated it at ISO 800 and processed it in Ilford ID11 developer at 1:1 for 7 ¼ minutes at 24°. This gave me great prints at grade 2 on my LPL enlarger. I  then adjusted the printing settings to optimise for each negative. On digital I’ve done almost exactly the same process by testing every film simulation on offer before settling on the two that I’m going to use. I nearly always use Pro Neg S for colour and I use Acros G for black and white (X-Pro2) (B g on X-T1). Even when I’m shooting black and white I set my colour image first in camera ensuring the white balance and tone are spot on in each new scene before I switch to Acros G or B g for the shoot.

Acros film simulation on the Fuji X-Pro2

04. The shot bottom right of Vicki Waghorn our hair and make up artist shows the colours in the room for reference. That shot is Pro Neg S film simulation. Shooting bridal takes careful exposure control. It’s important to have detail in the lace yet to have white or very near white dresses. The Lovegrove wedding look was always bright and cheerful and this is one reason we attracted top clients. Our competitors were often shooting heavy, dark images at weddings.

There is a trend at the moment for some wedding photographers to pump in contrast and make monochrome pictures ‘pop’ or ‘punchy’. The problem is this will become a dated just like the ‘vintage look’ that was popular a few years back with it’s yellow tinted skies and washed out shadows. HDR is already passed it’s best in a lot of peoples eyes. The good news with the Fujifilm simulations available in X series cameras is they are beautiful, calm and timeless. Classic Chrome is the exception and it’s interesting to note that it never got a Fuji emulsion name because Fuji transparency film was always better than that, and reproduced colours more faithfully than CC. Although most of my cameras have the Classic Chrome film simulation available I find it a bit too ‘Instagram’ for my taste. My advice is get a look that is right for you, get to know it well and make it your own. If, like me, you shoot for commercial clients from time to time, having a clean, pure look in your tool kit is definitely worthwhile too.

05. Pro Neg S on the left and Acros G on the right.

05. Pro Neg S on the left and Acros G on the right.

The process

  • Set up your camera LCD/ EVF to ensure you are seeing accurate exposure and colour saturation.
  • Spend time to test each film simulation to determine the ones that work best for you and your subject.
  • Adjust the highlight and shadow tone settings to give an accurate representation of your final look.

During the shoot

  • Set the camera to your regular colour film simulation, and set the white balance for the scene.
  • Switch to Acros film simulation or your regular monochrome film simulation as and when required. Always have the correct white balance before switching to a monochrome film simulation. If you are shooting in a fast changing environment switch to Auto WB.
  • Use the camera screen to asses the lighting contrast and adjust the lighting as required. Get it right in camera. If you resort to a lot of slidery in Lightroom you will have lost the delicate, subtle, effect of the film simulation.

In Lightroom

  • Set the film simulation to the same one that you used at the shoot and make final tweaks to the pictures before exporting. Tip: I have set my Lightroom defaults to set the Pro Neg S film simulation automatically for all pictures taken my Fuji X cameras.

How to batch process a set of monochrome images in Lightroom

  • Get all the images looking perfect in colour. Spot healed, white balanced, gradiented, brushed and renamed etc.
  • Switch to Library and select grid view.
  • Select all the pictures and press Cmd & apostrophe to create virtual copies.
  • Keeping the original selection switch to Develop.
  • Set the picture on screen to the new monochrome film simulation Across or B etc.
  • Sync settings and choose just Camera Calibration and Process Version.
  • You now have a perfect set of monochrome images.
Abigail Westrup adjusts the wedding dress.

06. Abigail Westrup adjusts the fit of her dress and we all share a joke. It’s important to have fun on a bridal shoot. The last thing we need throughout the set is the “I’m too cool to smile” look.

07.

07. I love a good chandelier so I used it as the background for this set of images.

08.

08. High key or low key, the Acros G works for me. There’s a real sheen and vibrancy at pixel level. These are all just batched conversions from colour files with no added anything and I feel despite the soft delicate lighting these images avoided the grey and drab look that is so easy to generate in low contrast lighting.

09.

09. Clevedon Hall was the perfect choice for this shoot. It is a wonderful wedding venue right on our doorstep in the South West of England. There is great opportunity for a wide variety of photographs to be taken throughout the building and extensive grounds.

10.

10. I took beauty head shots too for Vicki to use on her website and I’m always on the lookout for a different angle.

11. Acros G on the left and Pro Neg S on the right. Great tonality starts with great light. I'm usually using hard light sources but fashion often needs soft sources to show the lustre and sheen in the fabrics.

11. This shows Acros G on the left and Pro Neg S on the right. Great tonality starts with great light. I’m usually using hard light sources but fashion often needs soft sources to show the lustre and sheen in the fabrics. Even with the B g film simulation that I’m so used to on my other Fuji X cameras I could achieve 95% of this look with a bit of added contrast and sharpening.

12.

12. The shot on the left and top right were taken with the 35mm f/1.4 lens as I wanted the wider perspective that a standard lens gives me. The rest of the shots in this set were taken with the 90mm f/2. I find it’s easier sometimes to stick to one lens and use it for everything. The 90mm focusses really close so it was great for the close ups too.

And finally

If you would like me to photograph you or your fashion collection please take a look at my very reasonable prices and information. Most of my commercial clients choose between 50 and 70 images from their shoot to use online or in advertising. My team can arrange models and a venue to suit your needs. Each commercial shoot has unique requirements and Blaise, Laura or Suzi at the Lovegrove office will be glad to discuss my availability and to arrange a quote for you. Ring them on 01275 853204 or email them.

Please feel free to discuss this article in the comments section below.

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38 Responses

    • Damien

      Hi Jay, I just checked. There is no grad. The light fall off on the left is because of distance increase from the net curtail over a window light source and the fall off on the right is because of angle to the window light. I do regularly use grads in Lightroom though. It saves me the faff of having to shoot with them.
      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  1. Wayne

    Damien, lovely images. You don’t mention whether you are shooting raw or jpg. I assume you are shooting raw as you mentioned later in article that you choose the pics in Lightroom make virtual copies then set the film simulation?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Wayne,

      Thank you. Well spotted. I’ve just amended the article. “I shot in RAW and used the Pro Neg S film simulation with H tone set to -1, S tone set to -1, Sharpness set to -2, Noise reduction set to -3 and the White balance set to K and carefully adjusted for each set up. The White balance is the only element that gets transferred to the RAW processing engine however the other factors give me the perfect image on camera to enable me to set the lighting contrast and exposure.”

      I hope this helps,

      Damien.

      Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Mark for your continued support.

      It’s a good discipline for me to use soft light and shoot like I did at weddings years ago. I’m glad you like my pictures.

      Stay inspired.

      Damien.

      Reply
  2. Marc Cooper (@marccoop3r)

    Hi Damien. Thanks for this, really great post. A question about Lightroom and auto assigning Pro Neg s on import, as well as sharpening levels, adding keywords/ copyright info, etc etc.
    Can you post a link to somewhere which explains how to set this up – assuming it exists!?

    Reply
  3. Christian Schwab

    Hi Damien. As always you have made very very beautifull and artistic pictures. Wow and thank you for your enlightening posts.
    My question belongs to your experiences with the X-PRO2. Do you think, that the X-PRO2 exposes under same conditions and settings in the same way as the X-T1, or, as it is my impression after looking at pictures of published reviewers, darker than the X-T1. I am curious about your opinion.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Christian, Thank you for your kind words. The X-Pro2 is like any X camera I’ve owned. If the picture looks dark I make it brighter and if it looks bright I make it darker. I never use any sort of metering, I use my eyes and the LCD/ EVF. I hope this helps, Damien.

      Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Tschnitzlein, Bg is what Fuji call that particular film simulation in X cameras Q menu. Lightroom 5 calls it Monochrome with green filter. Adobe has more screen space to play with ;) I hope this helps. Regards, Damien.

      Reply
  4. Michael Stevens

    Hi Damien, Lovely pictures again. I’ve learned a lot from you over the past couple of weeks from your videos and Blogs on the subjects I enjoy; portraits and travel, including this trick of which I wasn’t aware and have now tweaked a recent portrait shoot in view of it. Great.

    I’ve been meaning to ask a couple of questions of you and hope you don’t mind here. Just before Christmas I bought an XT-1 with 18-55mm, plus 10-24mm, 50-150mm and the f2.4 60mm, (just to get the extra cash back!) Think I should have got the f1.2 56mm but am thinking the f 1.4 35mm prime may fit into my kit better now? (or swap the 60 as well). Also can you advise on the size of Retrospective bag would suit my gear please (+ small bits and a speed light or two). Its difficult to judge sizes on the internet and I’m sure my local shop doesn’t have them. I have a Kata 3-in1 30 I kept after ditching my Canon stuff.

    Sorry its a long post and many thanks. Michael

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your kind words. Kit choice is very personal and without knowing you, the way you shoot, what you shoot or how you shoot I’m not qualified to advise on what lenses to get. I have all the lenses you mention but I only use a few of them on any particular shoot. Each of my assignments has a different need and so I choose my lenses and lighting kit accordingly. As for the kit bag, I’d go for a Retrospective 30. I own the 30, 2x 7 and the 5. The 30 is for street shoots where I carry Speedlights etc, one 7 is for my Black Magic Pocket Cinema camera kit, the other 7 gets used for interior shoots where I just need a camera and 3 lenses and finally the 5 is used for travel when I’m packing the X-T10, 18-55 and 55-200. I hope this helps.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  5. Frans van Zomeren

    Hi Damien, amazing site and very beautiful pictures.
    Looks like the XP2 is again a very nice camera But I have one burning question; how good is the cam with longer lenses? I had an setup with an XP1 /23mm and XT2 / 56mm because longer lenses were not suiteble on the XPT (OVF rectangle to small and not a nice EVF) How is the situation concerning longer lenses on the XP2?
    Much obliged,
    cheers,
    Frans

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Frans,

      Thank you for the site compliments. I prefer the X-T1 viewfinder with long lenses as I need the large eyecup to keep the sun out when I’m shooting. I don’t use OVF anyway. X-Pro2 files are far better than X-T1 so roll on X-T2 :)

      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
    • Damien

      Hi James, I hope to have the opportunity to find out soon. There is no reason to suggest any difference as I’ve done extensive low key shooting and had fabulous results.

      Kind regards, Damien.

      Reply
  6. Nic

    Damien,

    Can you please help, amazing shots as always. If i shoot raw +jpeg have the camera on Acros g when i get it into LR I’ll have a completed BW jpeg in all its Acros glory and a raw file i can produce a clour image from. Now if i only shoot in raw ill then have to use your batch copy convert method. So my question is, is the straight raw method better? What im trying to get at is LR isnt fuji so the simulation of Acros when the raw file is in LR is surely not as good as letting the fuji processor do it in camera ? Ive not order one yet but will be soon just wondered what your thoughts were.
    All the best
    Nic
    picnic4u on instagram

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Nic,

      Just set the film simulation default in Lightroom to Acros or one of it’s varients if you want to import the RAWs as monochromes.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
      • Nic

        Hi
        Thanks Damien I know i can do that. But was asking if you noticed much difference between jpeg Acros v’s Raw then Acros in LR

        Cheers

      • Damien

        Hi Nic,

        I’ve not compared. I set my in camera jpegs flat to ensure I can see what information I can recover in the RAW process. The settings I apply to my in camera jpegs don’t transfer to Lightroom apart from white balance and tint. I work this way so that I don’t have surprises at the edit stage and I’m fairly confident with the dynamic range when I’m setting my lighting too.

        Cheers,

        Damien.

      • Kevin Bjorke

        Hi Damien, yes, that’s my point! Where is ‘Acros B’ which you mention a few times and describe as ‘just looks a bit blotchy’? Was this a no-longer-available preproduction mode, something in LR, or… ? cheers

      • Damien

        Hi Kevin,

        Ah good point. It’s my error. I’m dyslexic so that was my mistake. I use Acros G for portraits. Sorry about that.

        Damien.

  7. Terrence Bibb

    Damien,

    Would you share your process for going from the final edit to print to best maximize the file?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Terrence,

      Once I have the image looking fab in Lightroom it is ready for export or print. If I’m printing in house on my Epson/ Hahenemulle I print directly from Lightroom using a custom made colour profile and 16 bit output. If I’m printing at a colour managed lab I export from Lightroom as 16 bit tiff then convert to the lab profile in Photoshop and then resize as required and convert to jpeg with the sharpening level needed for their machine.

      I hope this helps,

      Damien.

      Reply
  8. Nic

    Damien im so sorry im just a bit confused..does take much.. during tbe shoot you say you say set colour film simulation then switch to Acros as and when you need it. You then go on to say in light importing using the colur simulation ( Ns in your case batched processed ) then cleaned up then changed to Acros? Why are you switching to Acros during the shoot if you are shooting RAW as the Acros info doesnt transfer to RAW? and aslo why transfer to colour simulation first then to Acros? Please does get me wrong I’m incredibly grateful you share all this info many dont but i just want to understand it a little better

    Thanks
    Nic

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Nic,

      Great question. I switch to Acros during the shoot so I can see the picture as I will intend it to be. This helps me set the lighting contrast and composition. For example… Rather than compromise the composition to avoid a green object in the background, I can compose the shot in monochrome view perfectly. I can also share the image with my client so they get to see the image in it’s monochrome glory. However as the white balance affects how the Acros images look I edit the images in colour before converting. I work in RAW because I have many output needs from CMYK magazine to RGB ink jet and web. I can optimise my output from RAW for each to ensure shadow detail, gamma and highlight tones are spot on.

      I hope this helps,

      Damien.

      Reply
  9. Terrence Bibb

    Damien,

    Splendid images as alway’s. Question and this may be more XT-1 based. Any suggestions for getting as close to a TRI-X look as possible with the Fuji XT1 simulations?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Terrence, go for B film simulation and add grain via Silver FX pro in Lightroom afterwards. It’s a free plugin. just add clumpy grain and soften it off :) Cheers, Damien.

      Reply

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About The Author

Damien Lovegrove is a world renowned portrait photographer specialising in making women look fabulous. “I’m inspired by beauty and as I have matured as a photographer I’ve learned to see beauty in just about everyone and everywhere. It’s not what I look at that matters to me, it is what I see. I love people and I suppose women in particular. I love their mannerisms, fashion, style and beauty."

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