Geló Tutorial #7 - Lo-fi light leak effects / by James Moore


With the lomography movement, came the resurgence of film pitted against the (almost) pixel perfect digital photography arena. Where digital in its effect democratised photography and made sharper, perfectly exposed images more accessible to everybody and encouraging more experimentation (no expensive film processing); it helped to a degree to bring about a new appetite for the use of film and the cameras that shoot film themselves. We've all seen (and used) many of the filter apps out there that mimic the unique, unpredictable (sometimes) and totally random nuances of shooting with film.

This 'lo-fi' style has spawned a whole artistic movement and photographic style, where cheap 'toy' cameras like the LC-A, Holga and Diana, are used to celebrate fuzzy image quality, random light leaks and alternative film techniques like Cross Processing.

Being an analogue process, most of this is pretty much undefinable, almost random and certainly unpredictable. Light leaks can burn out the edge of an image, or create ghostly streaks across entire frames. Cross processing blows out highlights and skews the colour cast dependent on film and camera and lens and lighting conditions. Part of the charm is that it is unpredictable, and the results can be equally successful as less than successful.

In Geló too, we can create, or mimic such effects. We'll cover a cross processing mix later, but for now we'll look at those light leaks.

Using grads, we can create custom leaks that are tailor made for an image. In the example above there is a reddish cast and yellow/white burnout that are characteristic of light leaks on 35mm colour negative film. The degree by how the light leak extends, and how bright it is is entirely up to you so this is just a refernce. There's no right or wrong, and if you have a look you wish to recreate from a real light leak in general it should be easy to achieve.

Starting with an image taken of large ferns on a bright Summer's day, we've added a red-coloured grad horizontally and blended using the ADD blend mode. This means that shadows are coloured to the chosen hue, fading to the normal hues in the image itself. Retaining contrast with the setting on NORMAL and we'll overlay this onto the image in COLOUR. Again you could try a variety of options to see what works best on your image.

After creating the grad, save the image to your camera roll; and reload this back in to the app.

Next we add a yellow-coloured grad, running horizontally in the same direction, but with less width from left to right. This adds an intensifying flare over the red colour. Increase contrast by setting contrast to HIGH to further add glare and a small degree of over-exposure all over. Using the ADD blend mode increases the brightness of the previously coloured red areas in increasing intensity.

Save this image to your camera roll, which now has an added light leak. You could add other leaks, or intensify the existing leak further with an overlay of pale yellow or white.

Next up - Increase contrast in skies using a faux polariser effect.

You can download Geló for iPhone and iPod here...