How to create a Lomo effect in Lightroom

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Fashion trends tend to revive things from the past; these days “going retro” has become a widely-known expression for which photography world also takes an important role.

Such a versatile software like Adobe Lightroom can give the user an immense range of possible effects, only requiring the user a proper knowledge on how to use the tools provided; meaning that we can manage to create fantastic effects in only a few minutes if we know our way with Lightroom tools.

Today we are going to work with Lightroom for simulating the effect of old popular film cameras like Lomo; which as it became such a popular effect is now known as Lomographic photography.

Lightroom’s procedure for lomo effects

Open up your image in Lightroom and switch to the Develop module. The very core of this effect relies on the Split Toning panel, but first, let’s do some quick adjustments to the image we are working with.

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Try to locate areas where you can sample a neutral grey color (R,  G, B values are almost equal), otherwise, work your way with the through the Temp/Tint sliders in order to reach a proper White Balance in my image. The idea is to warm up the image a little bit, so I’ll move the sliders of Temp and Tint towards positive values.

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Next, move to the Basic Adjustments panel. What I want to adjust in this image is to reduce annoying highlights as well as too dark shadows. Start by increasing the value for Contrast.

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Then work with the same values as I am handling: reduce the Highlights to avoid strong lights at the sky, compensate the Shadows by moving the slider towards positive values, reduce Whites and increase Blacks. That way the image looks okay to me.

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And finally, as a basic adjustment, we need to work our way with the last sliders on the Basic adjustment panel: Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation. Increase Clarity but keeping the value below +60, as such value is meant only for HDR images.

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Increase the Vibrance a little bit.

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And for saturation only give 1 or 2 points of value.

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At the Tone Curve panel, we need to look for the part where it says “Point curve: Linear”. Click on it and change it to Medium Contrast and it will automatically adjust the conditions of the image, moving closer to the effect we want to get.

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Move to the HSL panel for reinforcing the main hues present on the current photo but avoid increasing the values for the tints that you plan to use for the Split Toning effect; remember that old pictures are not known for keeping strong hue values.

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The main character of this whole tutorial is Split Toning: this panel adds a must valued effect in most photography scenes by changing Highlights and Shadows to tints we define with the tools provided, meaning that we can change the whole feeling of an image in only a few clicks.

A key element in here is to consider the main hues available at the scene; for example: in this scene greens and greys are predominant, meaning that if I go with green values there won’t be a noticeable effect since the hue selected will overcast the whole scene. Go with contrasty tones or with golden tints, as they are always a classic.

I’ll start applying a tint for the Highlights

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Do the same for Shadows

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And reduce the Saturation values a little bit.

Next, I want to add some effect to this image in order to emulate an old but well-conserved picture. First, add lots of Film Grain to the picture; if the quality of the image is good, this won’t affect it too much.

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Go to the Lens Correction panel and add a Vignetting effect with the values shown below.

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And finally, switch to the Adjustment Brush tool. In here you have to paint areas, most especially in the sky, with the values shown below in order to accomplish the effect. As you can see, I increased the values on Magenta tint while at the same time reducing the Saturation and Clarity to give an old faded effect to the sky conditions.

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We can do now a Before/After shot in order to compare what we have accomplished so far.

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The image obviously looks completely different, which is really good, and such effect was created by only tweaking some aspects with the tools that Lightroom provides. Another fast way to create this effect is by using presets like the Cross Processing X by Sleeklens or the Split Tones one.

Hope this guide inspired you enough to create a nice looking “lomo” effect and see you next time!

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