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While we’re all busy hightailing it into the digital age, photographers everywhere are also rediscovering the charming aesthetics of the analog days gone by.
Lomography--or casual, snapshot photography using Lomo cameras made in Russia--is getting hot (yes really--check out lomography.com for more). But having to purchase a separate camera for the sole purpose of taking slightly out-of-focus, high-contrast photos seems a little drastic. So if you already own either an affordable point-and-shoot or a fancy DSLR and have access to Photoshop, why not just apply a few simple filters to give that trendy look to your digital photos?
Difficulty Level: Medium
What You Need:
>> Photoshop CS3 and up. We used Photoshop CS4.
>> A photo with considerable lighting, preferably taken outside.
This photo has the perfect balance of colorful tones and lighting, and we’re going to ruin it by making it look old.
Open a photo you would like to transform. We went with one that was taken outdoors and has plenty of lighting--avoid dark photos taken indoors, which won’t fully benefit from this process. This will make sure the end result looks authentic, as if taken with an actual Lomo camera.
Play around with these values to get the look you want.
Bring up the Layers dialog and right-click your photo to create a Layer From Background (or choose Layer > New > Layer From Background, in the menu bar). Next, we’ll add a dark vignette border to give our photo that faded look. Go to Filter > Distort > Lens Correction and adjust the Vignette settings so the Amount is –75 and the Midpoint is +75. Deselect Show Grid and click OK.
Don't be alarmed if you see some really bright contrasting.
Your photo should now have a noticeably faded black border around the edges. Depending on the mood of your photo, you can play with this effect--for a more artsy look, for example, you can try setting Amount between +75 and +100 to make it look faded and weathered around the edges.
Channels lets you adjust your photo's colors individually.
The best part about photos taken with a Lomographic camera is the slightly faded and strongly contrasting colors, which lend that old-timey feel. Photoshop’s powerful color adjustment tools--including the ability to modify individual color channels--will let us emulate that look. Open the Channels dialog (Window > Channels), and select the Red channel. Notice that your photo now appears black and white.
First we'll select the Red channel.
Experiment with the values as much as you want.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and increase the brightness and contrast anywhere from 45 to 55--for an even more artsy look, you can take them up all the way to 70. For this photo, we chose 53 for contrast and 68 for brightness. As in Step 2, play with these values as much as you want. When the Preview box is checked, Photoshop will show you a preview of the overall effect.
We dig our final product's vignetted, faded snapshot effect.
Repeat Steps 3 and 4 with the Green color channel, though you don’t have to use the same values. Take the opportunity to do something kooky with your photo by experimenting with other values. When you’re satisfied, select the RGB color channel, and your Lomo photo should be complete. Notice how our “before” photo (Step 1) had natural colors and perfect lighting, while our after photo has higher contrast and blurry edges--that’s the Lomography effect!
Next page: Lomo To Go >>