Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lightroom Holga


Recently, I found myself flipping through some of the stunning images from uer taken at Hashima Island.  One of my secret passions is urban exploration, but I’m way too cowardly to actually do any infiltration.  I love reading stories about people chartering local fishing boats to take them to remote islands, but I don’t have the balls to attempt it myself.  
Hashima is a derelict island off the coast of Nagasaki.  Once a coal mining facility, it was abandoned in 1974 when coal went out of fashion in Japan.  For the past 30 odd years, it’s been left to rot; a ghost town in the middle of the ocean.  
The explorer who snuck onto the island took a Holga and shot everything he could see.  I found myself entranced by the pictures.  There’s something so appropriate about shooting abandoned locations with a camera like a Holga.  It’s an atmospheric device, to say the least.  

Originally sold as a toy camera in the 80’s, Holga has developed a cult - like following.  Known for its light leaks, blurry photos and all around random imaging problems, it has a kind of supernatural built - in eeriness that is just damn cool.  
I took a lazy Saturday afternoon and tried to create my own Holga lookalikes, using only Lightroom.  


I shot RAW, with presets as close to neutral as I could.  I varied my shutter speed from 1/60 to 1/30.  Since I tend to have a shaky hand, 1/60 is just slightly out of focus while 1/30 has defined blur.  Apertures hung right around f/2.8; way too open for Holga (which was either f/8 or f/11) but more visually interesting for me.  I wasn’t trying to create an exact Holga replica, just my interpretation of it.  
Once in Lightroom, I kicked around temp and tint until it looked interesting.  I pulled clarity down and punched vibrance without touching saturation or lightness at all.  I also threw on the vignette that Holgas are know for.
After an unsuccessful attempt to render light leaks in Photoshop, I moved back to LR and began playing with the gradient tool.  I found that applying a bright gradient (high exposure) followed by a darker one would give exactly what I was looking for.  

Click for larger version
I’m quite satisfied with my results.  I don’t normally shoot or process this way, but it’s good to know that the option is available to me if I’m ever so inclined.  
You can see the whole album of my Holga images at flickr.

Firecracker says "Go there!"

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