I’ve been working on one of my signature images, seeing how an inkjet print from the Epson 4800 stacks up against a silver print. More on that later. Here’s a trick I’ve just stumbled upon to make the look a bit more "authentic."
One of the problems I have with digital output from film is the chalky look from a scanned image. In making my silver prints I use a cold light head on my enlarger, which gives a soft, creamy look to the highlights. It is extremely forgiving to grain. When I see an image from a scanned negative, either from a drum scan or from my Nikon 9000, it looks like a print made with a condensor head enlarger. The grain is hard and granular. The highlights are contrasty and blocked up.
But I think I’ve figured out a way to get that creamy cold-light look.
I was playing around the settings in Noise Ninja (a Photoshop plug-in), and found the Contrast Setting under the Filter tab. Crank it all the way to 0, and voila! Cold light enlarger look. I’ve actually put all the settings to 0 (the default is 10), and taken off sharpening (I prefer to make that a separate action).
If you apply this effect on a duplicate layer, you can then make a mask and restrict the softening on areas where you want the full effect of the grain texture. In this print, I left the mask completely clear on the sky, and worked up the density of the mask across the foreground, restricting the softening the most on the main rocks. Here are examples.