Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding an effect and blending with Lens Flare, part of Photoshop for Designers: Textures (2011).
I'm choosing to interpret Lens Flare as a texture, because it's bundled in there with the Render Filters. And because, while it adds texture of sorts to your images, and it's very easy to apply, but there is one very useful trick that we can use when applying it that is going to give us more flexibility for exactly how we cast the Lens Flare. Here is the finished version. We see the lensflare exists on a layer above the image layer, it has a Blend mode of Screen applied to it. The trick that I've applied enables me to do this.
I can now move this around, and we see that there is a complete circle or almost a complete circle at the top, and a complete circle of Lens Flares down at the bottom. So we've got much more flexibility for how we actually position this. Here is how that happens. I am going to switch now to the starting point. If I were to apply the Lens Flare to this, I could apply it as a Smart Filter and that would be good. But it will be confined to within the bounds of the image.
So what I want to do first is, I want to add some extra canvas to this image. I'm going to press Command or Ctrl+Minus to make my image a bit smaller, and then come to the Image menu and to Canvas Size, where I'm going to express the Canvas Size as a Percent. So I'm going to change the Width and the Height to 120% of that current size. That's going to give me that amount of extra space around my image and we see the checkerboard of the transparency. So now when I create a new layer and I'm going to fill that new layer with black, currently my foreground color.
So I'll press Option or Alt, and my Backspace, Delete key, and then I choose Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Now, the disadvantage of this is that I can't really see at the time of applying it how it's going to line up with my image, but that's okay. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. So I can just size this, sort of position it, angle it how I want it, choose the Lens Type that I want, and I wish we had more lens types than this, but we've done, so we have to work with what we've given.
I want to make sure that I'm getting the whole of that Lens Flare in, and the whole of that Lens Flare in there. Okay. That's how it's going to look. Now, when I change the Blend mode to Screen, it would look like that. I can now use my Move tool to position the Lens Flare, and because Screen is one of the Blending modes that neutralizes black, we're not seeing any of the black except where it falls outside of the bounds of the image.
But then, I am going to use my Crop tool, press C to go to my Crop tool, draw myself a cropping rectangle around the bounds of the original image. When I perform the crop, I'm going to make sure that I hide rather than delete the cropped area. So now if I need to, I can press my V key to go to my Move tool and making sure that I'm on the Lens Flare layer, I can move that around. I'm still seeing the whole of the Lens Flare, even that portion that falls outside of the image.
If I wanted to, I'm not sure I did, I think this might be a bit over the top, but I could. I have an Alpha Channel saved in here. I could load that Alpha Channel by Command or Ctrl+Clicking on its thumbnail, come to my layers panel and then add that Alpha Channel as a layer Mask and since I want the mask filled with black, I'm going to hold down my Option or Alt key as I do so, and then that will mask out the Lens Flare in the foreground of the subject The Washington Monument. But I am not sure I like that too much, but that's an option.
Shift and Click on that to enable it and disable it. So there, a fairly standard Lens Flare, but with a couple of important differences, increasing the canvas size first of all to give you more flexibility, and then key to making it work is setting the Blending mode of the layer that the Lens Flare is on to Screen.
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