Years ago, if you wanted high-quality pictures, then photography was, for many, quite an expensive hobby. You had to fork out a lot of money for an SLR camera and then pay lots for your film and developing. The trial and error approach for early photographers meant costs were high.
And then digital happened.
Digital Photography gave people the ability to see straight away what their photo would look like, usually in a large viewfinder on the camera itself. It also became possible to add effects to the pictures there and then, but when transferred to the computer, even finer manipulation of images was possible.
Almost overnight, a whole new type of photographer was born. Due to the relatively low cost of memory cards, people were now taking dozens, if not hundreds of photographs and simply sifting through them to find the best. They could then import them into applications like PhotoShop and manipulate them, sometimes changing the look of them drastically.
Camera phones continue to improve and images that would have only been possible with kit costing hundreds of pounds are now possible from your cell phone.
Of course, the real boom came with the popularity of social media. Sites like Twitter and Facebook made it easy to share images directly from your phone and then Instagram came along. And this changed everything yet again.
You see, Instagram allows you to add filters that can take a relatively mundane picture and make it look great. By delicately shifting colours, or enhancing saturation, a picture can suddenly leap out of the screen at you.
Back to Lomo
To many, though, this is all a bit too 'digital'. Indeed, the proliferation of high-quality cameras and post-processing leads many to believe that the soul has been ripped out of photography. Many people have a more spontaneous attitude and prefer cameras with a distinct low-tech feel.
One such camera which has now become an icon is the Lomo LC-A, made by LOMO PLC of Saint Petersburg, Russia.
A group of students discovered this camera and kicked off a movement that is still going strong today.
There are now a whole range of cameras created in the same style which produce similar effects to the original LOMO, but naturally, for those who already have a phone, there are apps that create similar effects.
Here’s a run-down of some of those apps.
Possibly the most famous, this app is also a social network in its own right. As it’s now part of the Facebook family, your images can be shared straight to your page for all your friends to see.
Available only on Apple Devices, this app has an enormous range of lenses, way beyond what Instagram provides. However there is a cost. The upside is, it gives you plenty of scope to create original images that don’t just look like everyone else’s.
For someone who uses an SLR a lot and just wants something on their phone which is creative, yet doesn’t take over from great design, this is a fantastic app.
This is an Android app that gives you a range of filters that allow you to get that 70s look to your photography. If you’re by the beach and the weather’s not up to much, take a photo with this and instantly be taken back to the summer of ’76!
Now, this is an expensive application and buying it just to make some photographs look old is maybe a little on the silly side. But if you have it, then you can do some amazing things with it.
For example, this tutorial at MashableUK takes you step-by-step through a method of converting a photograph into an Instagram-style version.
And DesignBump has a whole list of PhotoShop actions which mimic the retro and Instagram filters of the phone apps. Many of them are free, although some are premium quality and ask for a small fee.
All in all, there’s plenty of scope for creating photos that not only mimic the LOMO and retro look of old cameras, but when overused, they can get a little tiring.
Check out the work of the best photographers and you’ll find that even though they have a distinct “style”, they don’t over-use a technique to the point it becomes boring. Use your new powers wisely, however, and you’ll get a “wow” from all your friends and followers!