Sci-fi chic ”Blade Runner” rework


I attentively watched Blade Runner – the final cut to characterize the cinematography and use it as inspiration for processing images shot for the sci-fi chic project. My first cut at processing the images from the shoot was B&W conversion, which is evidently not very faithful to the movie. I attempted to better capture the feel of the movie’s cinematographic signature in a second processing pass of the images I preferred.

I devised a recipe based on what I could perceive from the movie’s visual atmosphere. Here are the various steps I incorporated and the rationale behind them in relation to the movie’s cinematography:

  1. Heavy desaturation of the green and blue channels: due to the constant presence of fog, smoke and rain during the outdoor scenes, the colors are generally muted.
  2. Slight nudge of the color temperature to the cool side: the lighting seems cooler than ”daylight” to me, especially in Sebastian’s den. Also, most the movie scenes are shot at night yielding a prevalent bluish tint.
  3. Use of cross-processing filter: a lot of scenes are partly lit by neon lights so the colors seem sometimes off. I used a cross-processing filter to capture the effect of neon lighting.
  4. Increase of contrast: the movie is generally contrasty so I bumped it up.
  5. Addition of grain: the film grain is very apparent even on the Blu-ray medium so I added noise to the picture to capture that effect.

Do I think that the resulting images are directly related to the Blade Runner cinematography? Certainly not. First of all, the lighting differs markedly from most scenes of the movie as it heavily uses back lighting and spot lights. Secondly, the constant haze created by fog, smoke or rain is missing. Thirdly, not all effects are present in every scene but I merged them all into every image. Additionally, some of the effects are more pronounced than in the movie such as the contrast change.

I like the resulting images though. They remind me of desaturated lomographs without the vignette! Obviously, these images are anything but lomographs since they result from digital captures combined with multiple post-processing steps.

It was a really interesting photo project and I definitely plan on exploring more sci-fi themes in portraiture. It combines several of my interests in a single package.

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