How to add Lomography using Photoshop

Posted: 17th October 2009 by Jacky Yong in Photography
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Disclaimer: This is just my noobi-ish experience trying to come up with my own workflow to create this effect. This is by no mean complete and final. Its sole purpose is to remind myself how I do it again, in case I want to reproduce it again. However you are welcomed to copy and try the steps for yourself.

Open the image in photoshop. You may fix any flaws in the pictures if you want (colour balance, skin smoothenings, exposures) but that is not entirely necessary. The colours will be shifted considerably anyway in the later stages, and vignetting can be added in the later stage that will definitely skew the overall brightness of the picture. So I’ll leave the picture as it is.

We will be working on layers a lot. The advantage will be obvious once you copy and layer other pictures to the lomo layer. More of that in detail later.

Next, go to LayerNew Adjustment LayerCurves… to add a curves layer. Click OK to add the layer.

Layer - New Adjustment Layer - Curves

Layer - New Adjustment Layer - Curves

As I read from the internet, lomo pictures has their red channels highly compressed. That means that reds are very contrasty. So how do we achieve very contrasting reds? Modify the S-curve for the red channel of course! Select red from the histogram:

Alternatively, press Alt+3

Alternatively, press Alt+3

Click on the curve to modify the shape of the curve to an S. This is just a rough estimate, no need to be precise. You can modify it again later anyway.

See the two points?

See the two points?

Next we’re gonna do the next part of the magic. Colour balance. Again I read from the internet (thank god for Google) that a typical lomo picture has its shadows area in a green tint, and the highlights in a yellowish tint. For that we tweak its colour on another layer.

Layer - New Adjustment Layer - Color Balance

Layer - New Adjustment Layer - Color Balance

Click the Shadow on the Tone selection. Drag the green higher, while the rest of the channels lower:

Shadows - Green it

Shadows - Green it

Click on the Highlights, drag the yellow higher, while the rest of the colours lower:

Highlights - Yellow it

Highlights - Yellow it

The image you’re seeing is almost getting towards the lomo feel. We’re already half-way there. See? I told you it was easy. (You mean I didn’t tell you that yet? Ohh sorry)

There is something lacking in this picture. The image is too saturated. I can choose to desaturate it, but I felt like using another more elegant solution. Create a new blank layer. Layer New Layer. Click OK.

Blank Layer

... or Shift + Ctrl + N

Fill the layer with all black. Go to Edit Fill.

... Shift + F5

... Shift + F5

Select Black. Click OK.

Fill it with solid black

Fill it with solid black

WHOOAAA!!! Where has my photo gone? Relax. Make sure that your black layer is still selected. Select the blending mode to Hue, and drag down the Opacity.

Hue blend, lower opacity

Hue blend, lower opacity

Your image is now ready for the final touch ups! Again I gather from the internet (okay, okay, we get it already!) that a typical lomo  image contains a very strong vignetting effect. I can always create a layer for that, but I choose not to. Photoshop’s very own vignetting just look a lot better!

Select your original image (it should be called Background in the layers view). Go to FilterDistortLens Correction.

Lens Correction

Lens Correction

Drag the Vignetting to the negative region. The amount you drag is a matter of personal taste.

Drag to the negative region to taste

Drag to the negative region to taste

There you go! A completely lomolized picture! The final step involves group these layers together so that you can drag the opacity amount as a group. This will enable fine adjustments of how much lomo effect that you want to achieve.

So back to my decision on using layers? Simply because you can now copy and paste another picture over your original picture to get an instant lomo effect! Therefore you will also notice that you should not crop the picture before you do the lomo if you decide to copy the effect to other pictures. I won’t go into detail into that, I’ll leave you to figure it out yourself.

There are still other things you can improve on. Notice that after you have lomolized the picture, some highlights will be blown, and some shadows will be lost. Use the dodge and burn tool to reveal details in the shadows and highlights that would otherwise be gone forever.

Have fun trying!

  1. faiz says:

    hello jacky..thanks for sharing! really useful ; -)