Create a vintage photo effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how to recreate the lomographic effect of the simplest camera in Photoshop. We will simulate the effect of the Holga / Diana cameras and apply it to our digital photos for a vintage look.

Instagram effect of lomographic toy camera

I’m pretty sure that the creators of Instagram were inspired by lo-fi (lomographic) simplest cameras of the last century, which look like toys. In today’s lesson, I will tell you how to create such an effect and go a little further, as if recreating the kind of pictures that Holga / Diana cameras took.

A bit of history

Previously, there were a couple of plastic cameras that were made in Hong Kong and themselves resembled toys. This type of camera was so unique in the quality of pictures (more precisely, its absence) that it received a huge cult of fans. Some fans are still looking for where you can buy a similar camera.

The original camera was called Diana and was produced in Hong Kong, but was later surpassed by the Holga camera, which was also made there. The Holga camera was developed by T. M. Lee in 1981. Tokina closed the factory, which produced cameras on November 15, 2015. There are also many Russian simple cameras resembling toys that are in demand among enthusiasts. I’ll show you how to recreate this effect in Photoshop.

1. Let’s start with a photo.

In Photoshop, open the image. The author used the image of a girl (paid).

Note: you can open any other photo at your discretion

2. Crop to square

This step is optional, but the original Diana and Holga had a square format.

Choose a tool Frame (Crop Tool), set the format 1: 1, and check the box Remove clipped pixels (Delete Cropped Pixels) on the bar above.

Place the square where you want to crop the photo.

Click Enter to apply the effect.

3. Add contrast

These cameras take rich pictures, let’s recreate it.

Copy background layer (Ctrl + J).

Change the blending mode of the new layer to Multiplication (Multiply) cut opacity (Opacity) to 47% (focus on the original photo, the parameters may vary).

Here is the result should be at this stage.

4. Let’s cheapen lenses, adding blur

There are many ways to accomplish this step, but I choose:

Option A: Select two layers (Background and Layer 1), merge them into one. If you need a quick result, you can simply combine them, and you can additionally convert them into a smart object.

Option B (as I did): Select two layers (Background and Layer 1), click Ctrl /Alt /Shift + E. This will create a combo layer over the previous two.

Go to menu Filter> Blur> Aperture Blur (Filter> Blur Gallery> Iris Blur).

I added a subtle blur around the edges, but you can add more if you want.

If you don’t have Photoshop CS6 or CC, just use Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur).

5. Add a color shade.

Retro cameras did not accurately convey color, so let’s add some shade.

On the menu Corrective layers (Adjustment Layers) on the layers panel select Colour (Solid Color).

Pick a bluish green, not turquoise, but a little closer to aquamarine.

Change the blending mode to Colour (Color) and cut opacity (Opacity). I used ten%.

That is the result should be obtained. Now the photo looks like after some filter on Instagram. Already at this stage, you can stop, but if you want to get the effect of a simple camera that looks like a toy, we will continue.

6. Add lights

One of the distinguishing features of the Holga was a poorly attached rear end, which caused light to fall on the film and leave spots. It is also one of the distinguishing characteristics of similar retro cameras.

Create a new layer, select a large soft red brush. Color the edges randomly by simulating the light.

Change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay). Soft (Soft) or Hard light (Hard Light) is also suitable, it all depends on the desired result.

So we got those same lights. Almost done, wait a bit.

7. Add a vignette

We need a vignette (and a couple of final touches). The best place to do it is the plugin. Camera Raw. (Photoshop users of a version less than CC will have to save the photo in Tiff format and then open Camera Raw by right-clicking on it in Bridge. Users of the CC version continue to perform this step).

(SS) Select the work layers (not the “light” layer) in the panel.

Right click and select Convert to Smart Object (Convert to Smart Object).

You will see that the layers are now merged, so you can apply the effect immediately to all layers.

Go to menu Filter > Camera Raw (Filter> Camera Raw).

(CS6 and younger users, follow this step through Bridge and be able to continue with us)

Select tab fx: Find Vignetting (Post Crop Vignette) and enter something like this.

As a result, we got a dark vignette around the edge of the photo.

8. Final touches

Do not close Camera Raw yet. (These two corrections are optional).

In the curves section, add some contrast by creating a smooth shape in the shape of the letter S, as shown in the screenshot:

You can play a little with the flowers, slightly increasing Saturation (Saturation) and reducing Vibration (Vibrance).

Click OK, to apply the changes.

9. Putting it all together

Just for a change, you can try to change the light overlay mode to Soft light (Soft Light). Depending on the original photo, this can improve the effect. Also try Colour (Color) Hard light (Hard Light) or Overlap (Overlay). Each photo is unique and sometimes different variations look better.

And here is the final result!

Optional: If it seems to you that the image is too saturated (dark), you can try the following.

Create an adjustment layer Curves (Curves). At the bottom of the curves menu, slightly drag the point, reducing the density of the shadow.

Here’s what happened:

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