For all the convenience that digital cameras provide, there’s still a certain charm to old Kodachrome photos, toy cameras, and film in general. There are a number of easy ways to imitate this film look with your digital photos on your Mac.
High-end photo editing applications like Aperture and Lightroom often use with plug-ins like Alien Skin’s Exposure ($250) to replicate a film look. This is a serious solution that comes with a serious price. Casual photographers looking for a fun and inexpensive way to give photos a retro film look can try these three simple applications instead.
Never Center, nervecenter.com; $19, free 15 day trial with no saving and watermarked images
To use Camerabag, simply drag an image to the window that opens when the app is launched. Your photo appears in the center of the window with a row of thumbnails below. Each thumbnail shows a preview of the filter that can be applied to the image. The ten filters include imitations of toy cameras, black & white, and cross-processed film. Each filter also has a border and cropping style connected to it. There is a drop-down menu that allows you to keep these on (the default), turn them off, or mix and match borders, crops, and filters.
Where CameraBag differs from its iOS counterparts is its ability to reprocess each filter, and the way it allows you to layer multiple filters on top of each other. When the Reprocess button is selected, clicking on each filter multiple times will reprocess the applied filter, adding subtle changes each time. By selecting Multi-filter, you can layer filters on top of each other to find new, and exciting combinations. Any of these combinations can be saved for later use, and additional filter combinations can be downloaded from Never Center’s website. With reprocessing, and multi-filter layering, using CameraBag makes it exciting turn your modern photos into retro images.
Pentacom, pentacom.jp; $10 for license, unlimited unlicensed use with watermark
Paul Ladroid, poladroid.net; free
Drag your image to the Polaroid camera that appears on the screen when the app is launched, and wait for your photo to slowly develop in front of your eyes. Its just like the real thing, but with less shaking. When the image starts to process, Poladroid even makes the familiar sound of a Polaroid being ejected from the cartridge.
Like a real instant photo, you never know quite what you’re going to get. There are a few options in the Preferences menu to make the vignetting light or strong, to apply a blur, or to add a few simulated fingerprint smudges. Being a beta project, a few of the menu items are still in French, but don’t worry. Poladroid is still easy to use because its interface is so straightforward: Drag your images to the camera, sit back, and wait for them to be transformed into something fun and new.
Shooting on film has many visual advantages, but unfortunately it’s not as practical (or affordable) as using a digital camera. If you’re hoping to quickly create some of that analog magic, or just give a fresh new look to your photos, CameraBag, Toycamera AnalogColor, and Poladroid are easy ways to imitate the look of film from your desktop.
[Macworld Contributor Beau Colburn lives in Boston and posts iPhone photos on his site Snap different.]