A film-like grain is not right for every digital photo. But when the light and natural contrast of the image are on point, it can work wonders.

That was the experience I had after coming home and reviewing photos I’d taken on a cloudy afternoon at Bendix Diner. Thanks to huge windows along a row of old-school diner booths, the photos had a soft, even-toned quality to them, with enough brightness to allow for low-ISO shooting and minimal noise.

Developing these images was a treat because not much had to be done to add some “pop”—a quick boost of the exposure, some tone curve adjustments, a few hue shifts, and a brightening up of the shadows and the highlights.

No preset, exposure +1.00
Bendix preset, exposure +1.00

The cherry on top, though, was adding some digital grain for a filmic look. Often, the faux-film effect doesn’t work quite the way I imagined it. This time, applied to photos with plenty of evenly lit subject matter, soft shadows, soft focus, and plenty of white values, it was perfect.

The Bendix preset is meant for images like these. Try it for yourself: