One of the main reasons I shoot film is to have little to no editing, and thanks to my amazing lab, I rarely ever have to do any editing to my film scans besides some cropping or straightening.
The tones, colors, etc., I’ve got that running like a well oiled machine with my lab. But, when it comes to film soup, I almost always edit them, either a little bit or sometimes a lot, to get the colors and look I want.
Film soup is a process where you soak your film in different combinations of household chemicals to create destructive and textured effects on your negatives. So the scans you get back from the lab can be all over the place, and they may need some editing.
And (this is coming from a person who strongly dislikes editing) I LOVE EDITING FILM SOUP.
Why? Because you can really just have fun with it. Mess up all the colors, dehaze, tone down shadows – basically you can do anything and everything.
There are film soup labs that will do some editing for you, but I’ve found that I really love doing my own editing. I have so much more control over the final image. It really makes it my art and not my lab’s art.
Here’s a little bit of what I do when I get my film soup scans back from my lab.
**As always, only send film soup to a lab that accepts film soup as it can mess up the chemicals and machinery. Always talk to your lab first. I send my film soup to AGX Film Lab.**
Here are the tools I like to use in Lightroom (not Lightroom Classic) for editing my film soup scans. These tools can also be found in Photoshop’s Camera Raw program.
Film soup can be super dominating sometimes, making an image come out dark, even if you know you exposed the image correctly.
I use the Exposure tool to increase exposure and help even out the image so it’s not as “heavy” and a bit lighter.
I LOVE contrast in all my work – the punchier, the better. I don’t always use the Contrast tool, but I usually will add in just a touch to help the colors come alive.
Again, I want the bright, punchy colors. Bumping up Vibrance can really bring out some of the film soup colors.
Sometimes I don’t need this at all, but if my colors are showing as more muted, I’ll tweak it.
I add in Saturation very similarly to how I add in Vibrance. Bumping up the saturation can again help bring out those colors and make them a bit punchier.
I really only ever use Dehaze when I get scans back that make me ask, wait, did I soup this or not?
I’ve had rolls come back where the soup is basically non-existent, but as soon as I start dehazing the soup comes alive.
So for those images that come back looking really plain, try dehazing.
6. Color Mixer
Using the Color Mixer is where you can really have some fun.
If I see some pink tones I want to bring out more, I will go into my red, purple, or magenta and see if I can get it to pop.
I also don’t love when I get lime green colors, so I will dial those back and work to make them a more yellow tone.
Sometimes, depending on the subject of the image, I don’t mess with these too much because I still want to keep the colors looking “normal.” For example, if I have people in my image, I don’t want their skin tone or look to become so far from the original that it looks out of place. That said, it’s film soup, so it’s probably never going to look quite “normal.”
Again, Color Mixer is a place to experiment and just try out different color settings.
I do not adjust Blacks often, but every now and then I will bring up the blacks to help show off a silhouette of a subject.
OR I will bring them way down to help bring out more of the soup over a black area.
So now, I have to ask: do you edit your film soup scans?
I’d love to hear if you do and your favorite ways to edit film soup. If not, maybe this article can help give you the courage to experiment with some editing the next time you get your scans.