By adding deliberate ‘camera mistakes‘ like light leakage, vignetting and grain you can give any photo a cool toy camera look. The Holga effect is perhaps the most popular of these effects. In this tutorial we show you how to use a few simple Photoshop effects to achieve the look of a retro Holga camera.
Your camera has been designed to help you capture accurate colours in a variety of lighting conditions. You can shoot in portrait or landscape format, which enables you to produce different compositions when capturing a landscape in-camera.
By using a low ISO setting your photos can be free of noise, but this can make your digitally captured landscapes appear too clean and clinical. Here, we’ll show you how to add character to a digital landscape by mimicking a variety of typical artefacts produced by a toy camera, such as the Holga.
In the early 1980s, cheap and cheerful Holga cameras were churned out in China. These pre-digital film cameras had plastic lenses, which caused dramatic vignetting (or darkening) and blurring around the edge of each frame.
The colours produced by a Holga often had strange shifts in hue, giving the image a distinctive cross-processed look. Prints produced by a Holga were grainy, which helped give the images a gritty documentary feel, and due to the shape of the sensor, Holga-produced prints always came in a square format.
Here we’ll show you how to use Photoshop Elements to endow your pictures with a variety of Holga-style artefacts, as well as tweaking colour hue and adding grain. We’ll even simulate the dramatic light leakage effects caused by cracks in the camera’s plastic casing.
How to create a Holga effect in Photoshop: steps 1-4
01 Open your source file
In Elements, go to File>Open and select your image. If it’s a raw-format photo like ours it will open in the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) editor. Because you’ll be adding a range of creative special effects to the shot, open it in the standard Photoshop editor. Click Open Image.
02 It’s hip to be square
To turn your portrait oriented photograph into a square print, as is unique to the Holga, grab the Crop tool from the Tools palette. Hold down the Shift key to constrain the tool so that it draws a square. Click and drag the cursor to select part of the image and hit the Return key to apply the crop.
03 Cross-processed colours
Click the Create Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers palette and choose Hue/Saturation. Blues tend to have a greenish tint when shot with a Holga. To recreate this look, choose Blues from the Edit menu and drag Hue to -62. Enhance the wheat by increasing the Saturation of the Yellows to +20. Click OK.
04 Add a vignette
To make the edges of the shot fade to black, drag the Background layer onto the Create A New Layer icon. Label the copy Vignette. Now go to Filter>CorrectCameraDistortion. Drag the Amount slider to -100 and Midpoint to +12 to tighten the vignette, and click OK.
PAGE 1 – How to create a Holga effect in Photoshop: steps 1-4
PAGE 2 – How to create a Holga effect in Photoshop: steps 5-8
PAGE 3 – How to create a Holga effect in Photoshop: steps 9-12
PAGE 4 – How to create a Holga effect in Photoshop: steps 13-16
PAGE 5 – How we created our Holga effect
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