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How To Create The Lomo Effect Using Photoshop - Lomo Vignette
Here's a tutorial by Frank Lazaro of istockphoto on how to achieve the popular Lomo effect using Photoshop. We'll start with a little background on the Lomo camera. From the Lomographic Society: "The whole Lomographic phenomenon began on a sunny St. Petersburg morning back in 1982. General Igor Petrowitsch Kornitzky, right-hand man to the USSR Minister of Defense and Industry, slammed a little Japanese mini-camera onto the ornate desk of his comrade Michail Panfilowitsch Panfiloff. Mr Panfiloff, Director of the powerful LOMO Russian Arms and Optical factory, examined the camera closely, noting its sharp glass lens, extremely high light sensitivity and robust casing.
"The two gentlemen, realizing the superior nature and extreme potential of this strange little item, gave immediate orders to copy and improve the design - with the ultimate goal of producing the largest quantity possible for the pleasure and glory of the Soviet population. It was decided - every respectable Communist should have a LOMO KOMPAKT AUTOMAT of their own; a unique and compact dynamo with the ability to adapt to all situations and provide full documentation of their lives and loves in the USSR. The LOMO LC-A was born, and millions of cameras were promptly produced and sold. The Soviets and their Socialist playmates in Vietnam, Cuba and East Germany snapped happily away throughout the nineteen eighties, fully documenting the last gasps of Communism, and the occasional beach vacation on the Black Sea."
Creating The Lomo Effect
When Marxism became scarce in Eastern Europe, so did the Lomo, as markets opened up and people suddenly had more than one camera option. But there were still people who prized the sturdy little machine from the LOMO Russian Arms company. The Minitar lens is dramatically wide, and the camera's auto-exposure capabilities let it work under just about any lighting conditions. The Lomographic Society was founded in 1992 and ever since the word has spread everywhere about the Russian camera with the crazy vignetting.
Once I learned all of this, I set out to find an LC-A and ended up buying two of these babies off eBay. After shooting with the Lomo, I wanted to find a way to duplicate the Lomo look and feel wtih photos from my Canon 20D. I searched and searched and after trying several different Photoshop methods, I finally came up with my own using a mix of different techniques I found on the internet. By all means, there are probably other ways to do this, included pre-built filters and actions, but this method has served me well and provides me with more control over the output.
Here is my step by step on how I take a digital photo and make it Lomoified. I do have one suggestion: create an action script once get this down, it will save you a ton of time.
Create A Vignette
The first thing you want to do is create the classic vignette that Lomos are well known for. We'll achieve this by doing a freehand circle lasso around the photo. It doesn't need to be perfect, and to prevent hard edges, we'll set the feather to 80-90 px before drawing the circle.If you see any hard edges, redraw the circle with an even larger feather.
You could use Filter>Distort>Lens Correction, but that creates too much of a uniformed vignette. The hand-drawn method gives you that natural look. Once you have set the feather and drawn the circle, invert your selection. To achieve the vignette, add a Levels layer. We still have the inverse selected.
This adds a masked-out layer on top of the original. Now, adjust the levels by moving the center arrow to the right. This will darken the edges and make your vignette. The amount is up to you. In this case we went from 1.00 to 0.50 on the center number highlighted in the image below.
Now Make It Lomo
The real key to the Lomo look is the color contrast and saturation. This occurs because people with real Lomos use color slide film and cross-process the film in C41 chemicals. Cross-processing is when you develop film in a chemical other than what it was made for. Standard 35mm film is usually processed in C41 chemicals, and color slide film is usually done in E6 chemicals. Things get interesting when you mix and match. (See our cross-processing tutorial.)
Typically, Lomo owners will process their color slides as standard 35mm. This results in over-saturated colors and, at times, freaky results. All of which make Lomos as special as they are. To get a digital photo to look Lomo, we need to fake the cross processing effect. (E6 film in C41 chemicals). If you're happy with your vignette, go ahead and flatten your image. If you'd prefer to keep your options open, this isn't necessary, but it does simplify things.
To achieve the color saturation and faux cross-processing, add a Curves layer and create a slanted S. The adjustment amount, i.e. the slant of the S, depends on the photo. Play with the adjustment until you get the lomo-like look you want. To give it a muted feel, create another layer. Select the paint bucket, pick black, and fill the new layer with solid black. Now change the Blending Mode to Hue, and reduce the opacity to 40%.
Flatten the photo by using shift-ctrl-e (shift-cmd-e on the mac) or go to the menu and Layer>Merge Layers. Then go to Image>Mode> RGB Color. You do not have to reselect the unchecked channels, when converting back to RGB, the channels will automatically turn back on and the photo will go back to be in color.
If your final image is too dark, add a levels adjustment layer. If you flattened the image, the layer will automatically be on top. If you did not flatten your image, make sure that the levels layer is on top of the other layers. Once it is open, move the center arrow to lighten/darken. Move it until the image looks lighter.
If you find the lomo process is making your image/color look too flat, try increasing the color saturation prior to making it lomo. Add a Saturation adjustment layer. If you flattened the image, the layer will automatically be on top. If you did not flatten you image, make sure that the saturation layer is on top of the other layers. First, increase the overall color saturation to see if it makes the colors pop, if not depending on the photo, go to the individual colors and increase those as well. You’re done. Save the file and share.
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Adjusting Exposure in Adobe Camera Raw CS3
Photoshop CS3 Tutorial High Dynamic Range
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