Light Leak? What is that all about?
A Light Leak is a hole or gap in the body of a camera where light is able to “leak” into the normally light-tight chamber, exposing the film or sensor with extra light. This light is diffused, although parts within the camera may cast shadows or reflect it in a particular way. For most purposes this is considered a problem. Within the Lomography movement it is seen as a positive effect, giving photos character.
One frequent source of light leaks in 35 mm cameras is around the film door due to degrading foam. Replacing the foam is a simple matter. Medium format cameras or large format cameras may have leaks between their various interchangeable parts or in old leather bellows. electrical tape is often used to repair light leaks in these cases.
(light leaks as they are found in their natural environment.)
What the heck is Lomography!?
Lomography is a commercial trademark of Lomographische AG, which their creators associate to a photographic image style and an analog camera movement and community facilitated by The Lomographic Society International. The Lomographic Society International was founded in 1992 by a group of Viennese students after they discovered the LCA camera created by LOMO PLC of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Lomography started as an art movement through which the students put on exhibitions of photos within Vienna; the art movement then developed into a commercial enterprise. Since 1995, Lomography has been the sole distributor of the LC-A camera outside of the former Soviet Union, and has moved into producing their own range of analog cameras, films and accessories.
In 1991, a group of Viennese students discovered the LOMO LC-A and were inspired by its “unique, colorful, and sometimes blurry” images. The Lomographic Society International was subsequently founded in 1992. After a series of art exhibitions culminating in shows in New York City and Moscow, Lomography signed an exclusive distribution agreement with LOMO PLC in 1995 — becoming the sole distributor of all LOMO LC-A cameras outside of the former Soviet Union. The new company reached an agreement with the deputy mayor of St Petersburg, the future Russian Prime Minister and President, Vladimir Putin, to receive a tax break in order to keep the LOMO factory in the city open.
(An assortment of Lomo style cameras.)
Similar to Kodak’s concept of the “Kodak moment”, the philosophy behind Lomography is summarized in its motto, “Don’t Think, Just Shoot.” This motto is accompanied by The Ten Golden Rules which are supposed to encourage spontaneity and the taking of photographs anywhere, while minimizing considerations of formal technique. Typical Lomography cameras are deliberately low-fidelity and of simple construction. Some cameras make use of multiple lenses and rainbow-colored flashes; some exhibit extreme optical distortions and light leaks. The intention of the lomographic style is one of acceptance of such deficiencies in order to create images with a unique character.
Typical of lomography are images with high-contrast and with unusual saturation and color that were created using the technique called cross processing in which film intended for developing in slide chemistry is processed in photographic negative chemistry, and vice versa. This technique can be employed with any film camera and can be somewhat mimicked with photo-editing software such as GIMP or Photoshop. However the use of digital manipulation to create this effect goes somewhat against the principles of Lomography.
Photos with some Light Leak magic added…
So how do I use this in my Designs?
Simple! Just search for some “royalty free Light Leaks” on Google and grab the ones you want. You can stack multiple leaks on top of each other to get different effects. Just bring in the photo you want to alter and add a new layer on top of it. Import your Light Leak and set the layer blending to “Overlay”. Once thats all set, fiddle with the layer opacity to control how intense the effect is and you’re now a Light Leak master. High opacity will give you strong retro effects while low opacity will add a little pizazz to a photo. You might not see the Light Leak very well but the colors will look a little more vibrant and interesting. You can also experiment with adding your own gradients and pin lights to make your own Light Leaks if you don’t find anything that catches your eye.
Here’s what your file should look like in the Photoshops…this one has two Leaks!