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What Are Lens Flares in Photoshop?

What Are Lens Flares in Photoshop?

One of the most powerful aspects of Photoshop editing software is adding elements to an image to change the look and feel. You can increase the realism of an image or stock photo by adding a lens flare, which is an artifact naturally caused when a lens system scatters a bright light. 

Choosing the Right Photo

Lens flare works best in images where it seems natural. In other words, it's best to choose an image that includes a visible light source, such as the sun. If you want to find a photo for your project (or one for practicing the lens flare technique) look through the royalty-free images at Shutterstock. 

Determining the Placement of the Flare

While you should create a separate layer for your lens flare so you don't permanently modify the original photo, it's easier to determine the right location for the flare by adding it to the image first. You can get to the Lens Flare effect by selecting the Filter drop-down menu from the top of the screen, hovering over Render, and clicking on Lens Flare. Fill in the options in the dialog box: type of lens and brightness. Click within the preview image to position the flare. You'll get the most realistic results by centering the flare on the light source in the image. Click OK to apply the flare.

Creating a Separate Layer

Now it's time to add the flare in a nondestructive way that leaves the original image unmodified. Select Undo Lens Flare from the top Edit menu. Next, create a new layer; you may want to call it "Lens Flare" for organizational reasons.

Reapplying the Lens Flare

You can't apply a lens flare to a blank layer, so the easiest way to get around this is to fill the layer with black. You can use the Fill command within the Edit menu. Now, apply the original lens flare you created to this new layer. When you click on Lens Flare, the fields will reflect the settings from when you tested it on the image earlier.

Making Final Modifications

Once you've added the lens flare, you need to get rid of the black background to see the photo again. In the Layers panel menu, change the setting for the Lens Flare layer from Normal to Screen. You should see your original photo and the flare. You can make final changes to the lens flare to get the effect you want: adjust the color and saturation, add a blur filter to reduce the sharpness, or change the brightness and opacity. 

Make an image beautifully realistic by adding a lens flare. With Photoshop and Shutterstock, you have the tools you need for beautiful graphic design.
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