Using Lo-Fi to Create Unique Photographs

Lo-Fi San Francisco Bell

A couple of months ago I wrote a post for Digital Photography School, on a new software program called Lo-Fi.  Two months later, it is still one of the first things I launch when playing with a new set of photographs.   Advanced Photographer recently ran an article on replicating the effects of old or toy cameras.  If you’d like to experiment with these types of looks, and not invest a lot of money, then Lo-Fi may be the answer.  At $30, you can test drive many different effects without needing Photoshop as the host program.

Below is replay from that post, drop me a line and let me know if you’ve found a magical Lo-Fi combination.

After discovering the fast, easy and creative effects available via iphone camera apps, I have been searching for similar software to creatively modify photos I take with my DLSR and my pocket camera.  I stumbled upon Lo-Fi, which was recently launched (  This reasonably priced standalone piece of software is not a plug-in and does not require knowledge of Photoshop or other photo processing software.  The interface is intuitive and easy to use, and the “owner’s manual” consists of three short videos totaling seven minutes.  I love this software because it mimics the retro look of old images and photos made on toy cameras.  Here are some tips to get you started on creatively re-interpreting your photos:

Tip 1:  Randomize.  Lo-Fi has a randomize button that will pick a combination of three looks for you.  I am usually surprised at how much I like the combination of effects I wouldn’t normally have picked.  It is a great way to break out of your comfort zone and expand your creative range.


Tip 2:  Match.  Identify which looks are consistent with the mood and feel of your image.  For example, If it’s a gritty street scene, do you want a more contrasty and grungy look?  If it’s a portrait do you want a dreamy look with a white vignette?

Inquisitive child

Tip 3:  Contradict.  Choose looks that are completely opposite of the look and feel for the image.  I chose a yellow film, a plastic or blurry effect, and a dirty border which was completely opposite of the crisp, sharp, clean feel of these fishing boat lights.

Fishing lights original
Fishing lights lo-Fi

Process tip:  I usually start from the top with the Film set of looks and work my way down.  Sometimes, I find it easier to toggle off the looks underneath the one I am currently working with.  This layering approach helps me visually build the end result as I go.

Lo-Fi has quickly become a verb in my vocabulary, I now find myself saying, “you should Lo-Fi that photo”.  To see more of our photographs, go to

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