If you don’t already know, the Holga camera is a $15 plastic toy camera, made in China and celebrated by many photographers for it’s blur, vignette, light leaks and low-quality aesthetic.
I’ll assume that you don’t want to go through all the hassle of using film, developing it, dealing with negatives and printing and storing and all the rest, so I’ll show you the best way I know how to fake a Holga image using Photoshop.
1. Crop it square. Holgas have square negatives, like many other medium format cameras. Use the crop tool, make sure you don’t have any sizes entered and hold shift to keep it perfectly square.
2. Use Filter > Distort > Lens Correction to darken the edges. Under where it says Vignette, drag the darken/lighten slider almost all the way to the left. Now pull the midpoint slider just a little to the right. Don’t worry about copying my numbers exactly, just make sure yours looks good.
3. Copy your Background layer and rename it Sharpen. Use Filter > Other > High Pass… at a low value (I used 2.2) to sharpen it up a little bit, set the layer blending mode to Hard Light and the opacity to 20%.
4. Copy your Background layer again, drag this one above the Sharpen layer and name the new copy Blur. Use Filter > Blur > Guassian Blur… at a fairly low value (I used 3.0) to get the image nice and fuzzy. Set the layer mode of this layer to Overlay and the opacity to 60%.
5. Create a Curves adjustment layer. Create an S in the line (see the screenshot) to give the picture a good amount of contrast.
6. Select the layer mask for the Curves layer and use a big brush with 0 hardness and low flow (0 – 20) to paint black on most of the middle part of the picture. You’re basically just enhancing the vignetting with this, so you want a little left around the edges.
7. Since most people usually use black & white film with these cameras for ease of home developing, I usually use a Black & White adjustment layer to complete the effect.
And there you have it, you’ve holga-ized your image using Photoshop. Good job! Fun, isn’t it?
Stay tuned to for cross-processing, lomography, light leaks, fake tilt-shift and more!