Trix 400 pushed to 1600, with yellow filter

Grit and Grain Makes Photos More Beautiful

Grain and grit makes photos more beautiful:

I’m reading Heraclitus’ fragments, and there is an interesting idea he had:

Doves bathe in dust, in order to fly better.

Which is interesting, because you typically associate white doves with purity. But they need dirty dust in order to fly better.

Which gave me the idea:

Perhaps our photos need some sort of dirt, grain, or grit in order to look more beautiful.

This is why I like pushing film, to look more contrasty and grainy.

Trix 400 pushed to 1600, with yellow filter

Or with black and white digital photos, I always add additional grain to make them look better.

Leica M9, ISO 2500, processed with Silver Efex Pro 2

Grain vs noise

Grain (film) looks beautiful. Noise (digital) looks ugly.

My theory:

Film grain is randomly dispersed, and this aesthetically beautiful. Also it is organic.


Digital noise is ugly because digital noise is too regularly dispersed. And inorganic isn’t as beautiful as organic.

Thus as a practical idea:

Film looks more beautiful as an aesthetic.


  1. For black and white, don’t strive to make super clean black and white photos. If possible, use JPEG with a high contrast and grainy film preset. If not, use RAW and use ERIC KIM PRESETS.
  2. If you’ve never shot film before, give it a shot. Pick up a copy of FILM NOTES, and read my free articles on how to shoot film. I recommend shooting Kodak Portra 400 for color and Kodak TRIX 400 for monochrome (also experiment pushing the film to 1600).
  3. Don’t be afraid to shoot high iso on your digital camera (1600, 3200, 6400 is all fine on modern digital cameras). If you find the noise too unbearable, convert your photos to monochrome.
  4. Recognize that an imperfect aesthetic is probably more beautiful than a totally perfect aesthetic. For example, for color photography, don’t try to get “true to life” colors. Instead, seek to make “false colors” to make your photos more interesting.
  5. Ultimately all aesthetics are subjective. Discover an aesthetic which is beautiful to you, and make photos you consider beautiful!

Shoot on!