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Lens Flare is one of those effects that I'm either trying to avoid or trying to intentionally achieve. And sometimes when I have an image that didn't exhibit any lens flare in the capture, I actually like to add a little bit of lens flare just to add a creative and interesting element into the image. Let's take a look at how we can add lens flare in Photoshop. I'm going to start off by creating a new layer, but this will be an empty layer essentially. I will fill it and change some of the properties. But initially, I'll simply click on the Create New Layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon down at the bottom of the Layers panel.
I'll go ahead and rename that layer, so I'll double-click on the Name of the layer and I'll just type Lens Flare, and press Enter or Return on the keyboard. And the I'm going to fill this layer with Black, because that helps with what I'm going to do a little bit later. I'll choose Edit and then Fill from the menu. Make sure the Use popup is set to Black, and then click OK. Now, at this point, the image is completely covered up with this black layer. I'm not able to see the underlying layer at all, but that's okay.
I'm going to change the blend mode for this layer to a blend mode that will cause the black to completely disappear. And it happens to enable the effect that I want later, which is to have that lens flare only lighten up portions of the image. So I'll change the blend mode using the popup at the top left of the Layers panel, in this case using the Screen blend mode, which is one of the lightening blend modes in Photoshop. Next, I'll go to the Filter menu and then I'm going to choose Render, followed by Lens Flare. And that will bring up the Lens Flare dialog where I can choose the type of lens that I want to simulate in terms of that Lens Flare effect.
In my mind, the 50 to 300 millimeter zoom lens flare effect produces the most pleasing result. So, I'll chose that option. I can also adjust the overall brightness of the effect, and I tend to set this brightness relatively high, because I can always moderate the effect later as we'll see. So, I'll set this to a reasonably high value, and then click OK in order to add that lens flare effect. I also want to align the center of the lens flare with the sun in this case. So I can use the Move tool and simply drag that lens flare layer into a different position.
You'll notice though, that because there was an edge, of course, in the image, and the lens flare went beyond that edge, that we have an obvious line. I also have the lens flare now going sort of out of the frame, and that's a little less interesting. So I'd like to rotate the lens flare to get this portion. The more colorful portion up at the top left. So I'll go to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform in order to bring up the transformation control. And then I'll move my mouse outside of the image, here. Outside of the bounding box for the transformation controls. And I'll click and drag outside of that box in order to rotate when I'm just about to 180 degrees.
I'll hold the shift key which will constrain the rotation angle. And then I'll release the mouse and I'll have that rotation applied. So I now have the lens flare rotated, but the position is no longer accurate. And so I'll simply click and drag in order to move that flare into position. Now, we can still see, of course, that we have some of those edges visible within the image, and I'll certainly want to take care of that. There are a variety of ways that we could go about that. In many cases, simply reducing the opacity of the effect will reduce the strength in some of those areas so they go away.
It just depends on the settings that you use. But you can also use a layer mask to blend the effect into the rest of the image. So I'll go ahead and click on the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel in order to add a layer mask to my lens flare layer. And then I'll choose the Brush tool from the toolbox, and I'll make sure that black is my foreground color. If it's not, you can press the letter D to get your default colors, and then press the letter X as needed to swap the foreground and background colors. I want to work with a 0% hardness with a soft-edge brush. I'll make sure that the blend mode for the brush is set to Normal and the opacity is at 100%, and then I'll work with a relatively large brush so that I'm getting a very smooth transition between areas where I'm painting and areas where I'm not.
I can even zoom out a little bit so that I can use a larger brush. Getting a little bit outside of the image itself, and then I'll simply paint with black on that layer mask in order to blend away the edges of that lens flare effect, so that it blends in with the rest of the photo. I have a small area here for example of a circular lens flare that's very, very large. So, I can blend that in just a little bit, so we no longer have that obvious line. I'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit here so we can get a better look at the result. And you'll see that, that straight edge line that was showing up toward the top of the image over at the right, has now disappeared.
Now that I have that cleaned up, I can continue to fine tune the opacity, perhaps reducing the opacity just a little bit so we're not having quite as strong an effect on the image, but as you can see, by utilizing a separate layer filled with black, and that screen blend mode, we're able to apply a lens flair effect with some great flexibility. We can always fine tune the effect using a layer mask, adjusting the opacity, and, as you've seen, even rotating and moving that lens flare around within the photo.
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