Have you ever heard about lomo photography? Are you in awe of those photos with over-saturated colors and off-kilter exposure? How about those that feature vignette framing, extreme optical distortions and intentional blurring? If you are, you may be interested in learning more about lomo photography – the art of taking “bad pictures” by traditional photography standards.
Understanding Lomography is the Key to Appreciating the Art
Lomography is an art movement founded in the early nineties by photographers who experimented with the cheap Russian-made Lomo LC-A camera and quickly fell in love with the one-of-a-kind photos such cameras produced. Now, the Lomographic Society International is very much active in promoting this art form and holds events that will further spread the art all over the world.
A lomo photograph is quite unique and exhibits the following characteristics:
- High color saturation
- Deep contrasts
- Mysterious vignette framing
- Sharp center and blurred edges
- Blown highlights
- Clipped shadows
- Film graining
- Light leaks
Now, do you know that you can transform your ordinary digital photos into some stunning lomo photographs? Yes, there’s no need for you to buy your own Russian Lomo LC-A camera to create such stunning photos. So, how do you do this? You can achieve the effects you’re after by simply following these steps:
- Create a classic vignette. If you are using Photoshop CS2, choose Filter then Distort then Lens Correction. Adjust the settings in the Vignette section accordingly. For Photoshop CS or older versions, you can create a new layer and use the lasso tool to draw a circle. You then inverse the selection, open the Fill tool and set to Black. Open the Gaussian Blur tool and blur the edges to achieve the vignette effect.
- Adjust the colors. After creating your vignette, you need to adjust the colors accordingly to achieve the Lomo look. To do this, click the Channels palette and choose Red. Increase the contrast to 50 to create realistic effects. Go back to Channels but choose Green this time. Repeat the same steps as above and view the final results by selecting the RGB channel. For older versions, choose Merge Layers under the Layers menu, add a curves layer, and create a new layer on top of the two previous layers. Fill the new layer with black, set the blending mode to Hue and reduce opacity to 40%.
- Sharpen the photo. To add more contrast, go to Image, select Mode then click on Lab Color. The program will ask you if you want to flatten the image. If you haven’t done so yet, choose Yes. Select the lightness channel then go back to Menu. Choose the Unsharp Mask and adjust your settings to your liking. For great results, set the Amount to 50%, Radius to 50%, and Threshold to 0. View the final results by clicking RGB color.
You can also simulate the lomo effect by using GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program), a free software raster graphics editor. To do this, you need to open your image file and then choose Curves or Color Balance to change your colors. Either step will yield the same results so feel free to use whichever you’re most comfortable with.
After setting the colors, choose the Unsharp Mask and use your preferred settings. Don’t forget to set the Contrast to +20 for more realistic effects.
As a final step, you need to create your vignette framing. Simply draw a circular figure using the Ellipse Select tool, feather the selection and then invert it. Click Brightness-Contrast under Colors and set your preferred values. Some find great results by setting the Brightness at -100 and the Contrast at +20 but feel free to experiment on your own to see if you can come up with something better.
The lomo effect can be achieved without even owning a Lomo camera. All you need is to know how to edit your digital photos and you can come up with amazing lomo photographs all the time!
Image Source: smashingmagazine.com
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