Toy Camera Photography: recreate the Lomo effect in Photoshop
Get the Lomo Effect: if you aspire to Lomo photography but are wary of incurring the film costs, look no further than our guide to recreating the Lomo effect in Photoshop. Matt Golowczynski explains
It’s easy to recreate the Lomo effect using software, although some files work better than others. Images with plenty of blue skies can give dramatic results, while those with no dominant tones or colours often take on any effects you make quite well. The following works best for the former type.
Step One - Add a vignette
Load your image onto Photoshop. Click on it in the Layers window and drag it over the Create a New Layer tab on the bottom. You should now have the original layer and a copy, the latter of which you should rename ‘Vignette’. Make sure this layer is highlighted before going to Filter > Lens Correction. Click on the Custom tab and drag the Vignette slider to the left until the corners of the frame darken. Click OK.
Step Two - Blur the Edges
Drag the Vignette layer on the Create a New Layer tab as you did in the first step, and rename it ‘Blur’. Click on Filter > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to between 1-3 pixels, before clicking OK. Now select the Eraser tool from the main palette and choose a Soft Round brush, before choosing the largest size that will fit into the frame.
Now turn the brush opacity down to around 30% and brush around the center of the image, making sure to avoid the corners. Do this until the center of the image is sharp, but don’t worry if the effect is a little uneven as it will appear more authentic.
You can also add some noise by duplicating the layer again before selecting Filter > Noise > Add Noise. This step is optional and you only need to apply a little, but it does result in a grainy texture similar to that of cross-processed film.
Step Three - Adjust contrast and colour
Next, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and click OK. The curves window should now be visible on the right hand side. What you do here depends on the image you’re using; to achieve a classic cross-processed look click on the drop down menu where it should say RGB and select the green channel.
Lift the line up from its center towards the top left corner a little, so that you end up with a gentle curve. Next, click on the red channel and apply a gentle S-shaped curve, before doing the same with the blue channel.
Depending on the desired effect, you may not need to change the red or blue channels, so consider these to be rough guidelines rather than instructions set in stone.
Step Four – Add a gradient map
Finally, click on Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map and click OK - this should turn your image black and white. Click on the drop down menu in the Layers tab which should be set to Normal and select Overlay.
Finish off by turning down the opacity until you’re happy with the result, although for the most dynamic effect you may even wish to leave it at 100%.
And you're done! You've captured the Lomo effect without having to pay for film processing. Now you can upload your image to your photo-sharing website of choice and bask in the compliments of your peers!
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