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How to make a light leak effect in Adobe LR

How to make a light leak effect in Adobe LR

In this post we’re not going to teach you how to prevent light leaks, only how to benefit from them.

Light leak effect is achieved when there is a gap or a hole in the body of used camera or any other optical equipment. Due to such “imperfection” rays of light simply “leaks” into cameras that are light-tight. After this the sensor is exposed with extra light. It can be diffused, but in some cases parts of photographing equipment might cast a shadow or reflect this light in a particular unpredictable way. In most situations light leak photography is considered as a huge problem. Still, nowadays many photographers believe that such effects add special and beautiful effect to photos of landscapes and portraits. In combination with photo post production services light leak effect produce result beyond any description.

light leak effect photo retouching example

Light Leak Photography Tutorial in Lightroom

The attitude towards light leak Lightroom effects and techniques are different among varied photographers. Somebody is sure that these are disappointing mistakes that should be avoided while photographing. They think that such “troubles” reveal photographer`s incompetence and disability to capture flawless photography.

light leak effect example

Creative photographers consider such Lightroom effects as something unusual and interesting. They claim that light leaks photography has special intrigue and deepness. For instance, rainbow light leak overlay has become a quite widespread photo retouching technique that is widely used in portraits and couple photography. In this post we’re not going to teach you how to prevent light leaks, only how to benefit from them.

Below we will present you the image that has been chosen by our team as a perfect “before photo” for creating light leak effect.

light leak effect photo retouching

This photo has been selected as a sample because it has a natural light. It makes the landscape pleasantly attractive. Thus, there is no need to create artificial light leak effect. We will just improve the already existing natural light. After having applied light leaks overlay, we’ve received the following outcome.

light leak effect photo retouching example

After you have found your a photo sample for light leak Lightroom, the process starts. Notice that the necessary result will be done with a filter tool that is handy graduated in Lightroom. In order to shorten time, we recommend using the button “M”. It will open the necessary graduated filter. As soon as the filter is completely activated, you should get familiar with a special control set. It will be the similar like you see in the picture below. Every type of setting can be found in the top right corner in the section of develop module.

light leak effect photo retouching example new

In order to guarantee the desirable light leak effect, we will use three separate graduated filters. The first thing you need to do is to click somewhere near the right side. With the help of cursor you will have to drag “the light” towards approximately the centre of a retouched photo.

light leak effect photo retouching example light

While being at this step, you should not worry about being totally precise and completely accurate as in many Lightroom effects. After the effect has been already applied, you will have a chance to correct all wanted details by moving varied outer lines and the centre pin. The main recommendation is that you should adjust the graduated filter until it looks nearly the same like you can observe in the below displayed example. You will quickly understand that the described effect is quite simple. Thus, it is widely used in portrait retouch.

light leak effect photo retouching example edit

Then your task is to add the next graduated filter. To complete this step, you will have to click on the section “new”.

After it, you should return to a photo under retouching and click on it. Again drag the cursor in the direction to the centre. This way you will create a new filter. Notice our recommendation. Place a pin a little bit closer to the visible right side of a picture you work with. That will help two filters not to merge with each other. That will add deepness to light leak Lightroom.

light leak effect example

Like with the first filter, you will need the settings section. Look at the picture and place them in the similar positions.

You will require creating the third and that is simultaneously the last graduated filter. Again you will click a section “new”. The only thing you should take into consideration is that you will have to place the cursor even closer than with the second filter. Below on the photo you will be shown its approximate position.

light leak effect photo retouching example new

Then, you will adjust the settings. On the picture you will see how to place every slider.

light leak effect photo retouching settings

In case you do everything according to the provided instruction, light leak photography is completed. Compare the photo that you have done with this example. In case you want to add more brightness, ask for photo color correction services.

light leak effect photo retouching example color

How to Create Light Leaks in Photoshop – Video Tutorials

If you have ever seen a beautiful photo for instance with rainbow light leak overlay, you have definitely faced a question how it is possible to create this wonderful effect. This technique turns out to be surprisingly effective and popular today. Some years ago lots of photographers, even professional ones were quite sure that light leaks was a symbol of a technical mistake. Thus, specialists tended to avoid it in order not to be judged as amateurs. Today the situation with light leaks photography has completely changed. Now light leaks after effects are treated as something that is able to raise photos` style and character.

light-leak-effect-photo-retouching-example

There is only one condition. The light leak effect will be satisfactory in case it is used properly. If you ignore all rules, you will face unsatisfactory result. In most of cases a model can be completely obscured by unattractive huge bob of bright light. In some cases you will not even see anything.

light-leak-effect-photo-retouching-example

Most probably because of this reason many photographers prefer to insert such effect, like rainbow light leak overlay.

In case you do not have free time, it is quite convenient to download different LR presets that promise to add attractive light leaks. You can check out the Best Free Lightroom Presets 2017 – Choice of Fix The Photo and install the one you need for free.

free lightroom presetsdownload free presets

Today there is a big variety of informative tutorials that show how to get light leaks in digital photography. Still, for a beginner it might be difficult to find an exactly suitable light leaks Photoshop tutorial. For solving this problem we have prepared a list of the most simple, detailed tutorials that are in free access.

1. Use Gradient

We have started our list with the example of the brightest light leak effect. This technique is unusual because it is achieved with the help of not a common graduate filter. In order to get the same Lightroom effects with warm colouring and effect, you will need to work with gradient layers. This variant is popular because of its simplicity and the ability to be adjusted depending on your needs.

2. A Realistic Effect

The main feature of this tutorial is that it shows how to get realistic Lightroom effects. From one side that is quite difficult, but still the result is worth it. Photo outcomes are so true-to-life that it can be even used in headshot retouching. Moreover, many photographers will appreciate that this tutorial is quite shot. It lasts only 9 minutes.

3. Custom Leaks

This light leak photography tutorial amazes with the variety of described techniques. After watching the video you will get familiar with such Photoshop options as blending, brushing and blurring. Additionally, you will be taught how to create a new colour palette and how to paint in flares. Thus, the tutorial will be useful for general Photoshop skills.

4. Unlock the Secret of Light Leaks

After this tutorial you will be aware of creating wonderful lens flare with the help of Photoshop. The video is based on portrait retouch. The photo contains visible bright light from the sun that is sitting on the background. That will become a suitable basis for creating necessary leak effect.

5. Vintage Light Leak Lightroom

We have mentioned that light leaks are used very often to add a vintage glory to modern photography. And this tutorial will teach you how to create light leaks in Photoshop and dealing with vintage effects can be a captivating process.

6. Adding Sunlight

This video is the shortest out of all presented samples about how to create light leaks in Photoshop. Still, you should not think that it is not useful and informative. After it you will know how to get a sweet rainbow light leak overlay on your photography. Again like in the first video you will have to use a gradient adjustment layer. The only minus is that it’s supported with comments. Still, everything is quite understandable.

7. Surreal Light Leaks

That is a brilliant example of light leak love effect that is used to add a surreal feeling to an ordinary portrait. The algorithm is quite simple. If to be short, you will be taught how to use varied blending options and the special gradient tool.

8. Elegant Leaks

Definitely the widespread popularity of light leaks Photoshop has led to a great diversity of offered types of this technique. As you can see, with light leaks you may achieve vintage or surreal effects. This light leak photography tutorial will show how to add an elegant feeling. For this it will suit mainly for portraits.

9. Light Beams

This is one more variation how to use artificially created a light leak film for your benefit. This tutorial slightly differs from the previous ones, but still it is quite simple. Moreover, if you have any questions, the author is always ready to support you in chart.

10. How to Create Light Leaks in Photoshop with Landscapes

And the last tutorial will be devoted to making light leaks with landscape photography. Definite with this photo genre the effect seems to be ideal and totally effective. It makes such photos deep and realistic.

After all videos you will have a completed understanding of what light leak effect is. Still, if you are not sure about your skills and knowledge, we highly advise to ask for a qualified help. Our team will support you without demanding high photo editing prices and other unpleasant surprises.


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Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.

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