How to Fix X-Processed Film Scans


This blog post goes hand in hand with this recent photo-walk

Do you have some slide film that you've had to cross-process?  It's not likely that you do. But, if you do... here's some info on a small Preset batch that will help you out when tweaking those scans in Adobe Lightroom.

Want the presets for free?
Let me know - and I will mail them to you.

What does Cross-Process Even Mean?

Cross-processing (also known as 'X-pro') is the basically deciding to deliberately process one type of film in a chemical solution that's actually intended for another type of film. In essence, doing things wrong. But on purpose. As specific chemical solutions are optimised for certain types and kinds of film, you'll get unpredictable (and often interesting) results when they are combined in this "different" way. 

Why Cross-Process?

  1. To create interesting and "arty" effects. #experimentalawesomeness

  2. It's the only option available as the local photo-lab can only process film in a certain way.

  3. You develop your own negatives and you've run out of the right chemicals (Oops).

For me, it was Option 2 above that prompted me to have my negatives X-pro'd.  And hey, I'll be honest, I kind of like the yellowed The Simpsons look and feel, but I also wanted to see how the images would turn out if the X-process effect was corrected, and if it was even possible to do this using nothing more than a simple Lightroom Preset. 

Most people X-process to create that effect, or to create something strange and arty. I was on a mission to do the opposite. And I think it's been a fun experiment and largely a success. I've shot with expired slide film 3 times now, in different ISO options (100, 200, 400) and on various cameras... and I am pretty sure the presets work. Depending on the camera, light, etc, the scans may have to be tweaked a little once the preset is applied, but that's fairly standard for most Lightroom presets anyway, so no big deal there. 


Wait, what is a Lightroom Preset?

If you're familiar with presets and Lightroom, and all that jazz - skip straight to the images and check out the groovy before and after shots (screenshots from Lightroom). If you're new to Lightroom, or you're simply new to using presets, then read on young Padawan learner.

Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom is used to organise and catalogue images, as well as manipulate these images by using the RAW or other source image files (Jpg, etc) in a way which brings about either a certain effect or tweaks the images to better represent the actual moment in time. For example, if you have an image that's too dark (underexposed) you can brighten it up in Lightroom. No pun intended - or was there... ;)

Lightroom is not Photoshop, and although you can do some cool things like us Spot Removal (for that piece of pie crumb on uncle Bob's chin), and things like virtual gradient filters and brushes, it is not as powerful or manipulative as Photoshop, and the two should not be confused. Over an above the photo "tweaking", I find Lightroom extremely useful when I am exporting and saving/archiving large batches of images for clients or after lengthy photo shoots.  Being able to resize, rename, and organise all these images in mere seconds is in itself a game [read Life] changer if you've been working with several clients and a lot of photos to process. 


Working with Presets

Presets are exactly what the name, sort-of, implies. A setting you can apply before doing anything else to the image to bring about a result. It's like a set default, a starting block, a benchmark setting, or a base level setup. 

If you're still lost, here's another example. When you get into a fancy sports car these days, you can have the driver's seat electronically set to match up with setting liked/used another particular driver. Sally is tall and has long legs but her husband Jack (who uses her car from time to time) is short and stout. When Jack gets into Sally's car for the first time he sets the seat height and distance from the pedals and saves the setting. When Sally gets back in, she simply presses the button that takes the seat settings back to the original. Her settings. When Jack gets back in the next day, he presses another button to go back to the first set of settings he saved.  Hmmm, I'm starting to hate that my own car doesn't do this! Haha. But you get the idea, right? That's how the presets work. I import an image and apply a preset right off the bat, and the image changes. The look the feel, everything, and in accordance to the preset you applied.

Film Photography Presets 35mm - South Africa - by Ken Treloar Photography.jpg

It's pretty cool, and if you use Lightroom already, but don't use presets, you should check them out and see if they're for you. I'd say I only use presets 10% of the time, if that, but when I do, it's because there are certain presets I own that I own or have created myself and I absolutely love using them (for the right thing, in the right way) because it saves me a whole bunch of editing time and only have to make minor changes and tweaks.

And that's why my X-process Fix Preset I made exists.  I only had to create the preset once, and now I use it every time I  shoot with Slide film that's been processed at my local photo-lab. Done. Game changer. Time saved, and more time to go out and shoot old-school film.


The X-Process Fix Presets - Before & After's

And that's that. If you've got any x-process images and would like to try out my preset pack - let me know.

I would also love to hear back from you with any feedback - so shoot me a mail or leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Happy shooting,