Friday, December 9, 2011

Quick and Dirty Photoshop Levels for Toy Camera Pics

Flat, Boring, Underexposed Images?
You can fix that.

     Unless you've modified your Holga or Diana to be more precise with exposure, you're bound to have some shots that just don't make the grade when it comes to exposure. Even with properly exposed negatives, I find the scans from my Holga to be a bit flat and in need of some tweaking to get them to a place that I like. Usually I avoid any of the automatic color/contrast/levels corrections since they tend to do strange things to my Holga images. Same goes for the eyedropper feature for picking black points and white points (they'll shift your color).
     One of the nice things about using "Levels" in Photoshop is that it really hasn't changed across all of the updates and versions. We're not going to confuse anyone with layers today, so let's be easy and simple.

     First things first: Open your image. Go to "Image" -> "Adjustments" -> "Levels"

     You should now have something that looks like this (without the red circle and line)...

     What you are seeing when you open levels is called a histogram - it's basically a graph of all of the information in your file with the left hand side being all the dark stuff and the right hand side being all the light stuff. The reason I circled the peak in the histogram above is to point out what information it correlates to. The peak corresponds to the darkest of the dark area of your image, in this case it is the vignette caused by the natural fall off of the wide angle Holga lens. There is really nothing in that area of the image, so we'll do this...

     If you grab the little black arrow on the left and slide it to the right, you will see your image getting darker. What you are doing is telling Photoshop that everything to the left of the arrow is BLACK. I stopped just before the next rise in the histogram since it started to affect the look of the rest of the image. Next we'll brighten it up a bit...

     Now... take the white arrow on the right and slide it to the left, but don't go too far (you don't want this look like a digital camera pic)!

     Those two simple steps in Photoshop's levels will make almost every low contrast or underexposed shot look worlds better. Here's a before and after of this picture and one other that used the same method. If your image editing software has a "Histogram" feature, you can follow the same steps and it should yield the same results!

      Thank you to Michael Langlais for letting us use his images! is an awesome mail-order photo lab that still processes all kinds of film!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The REAL first Analog Ambassador!

Kim Oberski!
 Kim is the only Analog Ambassador that was a customer of before we started the contest. She was the first Ambassador to get her new Holga and film in hand when she won because she had an order at the lab. In fact, she was so on top of her game and ahead of the curve we let her first Ambassador post go by unnoticed! Out sincere apologies to Kim!

Without further ado...
"After shooting with digital cameras since they were first introduced, I decided to dabble in learning to use film over the past 1.5 years, instant and analog. Instantly, I fell in love and now have a variety of cameras including: instant, 35mm, medium format, and digital. It's an honor to be chosen to share my thoughts on analog film and have Old School Photo Lab develop the prints. My name is Kim Oberski and I am an Analog Ambass.ADORE!"

Read the submission that got Kim a new Holga, a bunch of film and free processing:

After having used quite a bit of instant film in the past Kim's first Analog Ambassador rolls turned into a humbling experience - read all about it in her post: in which our Ambassador is disappointed by underexposure, but hopeful for the future. is an awesome mail-order photo lab that still processes all kinds of film!  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Introducing our first Analog Ambassador!

Devon Rowland!

Devon Rowland is a Baltimore-Washington based photographer with a passion for swing dancing, travel, and ice cream.  With no formal training in photography, Devon has worked to find her style by endless trial-and-error and her strong artistic eye developed through years of her mother dragging her through museums.  She has learned a lot by shooting with her DSLR, but ever the adventurer, Devon is ready to challenge herself with a new style of photography--film!

Here is the submission that won her a Holga camera and a bunch of film and processing:

Devon was the first Ambassador out of the gate when it came to blogging about her analog adventure. Since then, she has had her first roll come and go from the lab. You can read about her experience so far in her first official Analog Ambassador post - in which our Ambassador learns the lesson of the Holga film mask. is an awesome mail-order photo lab that still processes all kinds of film! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Analog Ambassador winning submissions!

The following four submissions were picked by a jury made up of employees and friends of the lab located in at least 2 different time zones, so the process involved a lot of e-mails... We tried to pick a range a personalities and were really looking for people who seemed like they would be enthusiastic about photography and sharing their experiences. Without further ado here are the winning entries:

Melissa B.:

Kim O.:

Devon R.: 

Sarah Z.: 

Finding consensus about who should get to be an Ambassador was pretty difficult, so it was nice to be able to have the public vote over at to fill the final slot. You guys made a good choice when you picked:

Jennifer L.: 

Check in next week when we start posting profiles and the first blog posts from our Ambassadors! They have their cameras and some of them have already had some rolls processed! 

If you missed the submissions that didn't make the cut, check out our last blog entry!