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Create Striking Rays of Light Easily in Photoshop

Rays of light pouring through trees or a window can enhance the moodiness of an image, but if there aren't enough particles in the air to reflect and diffuse the light, you may not be able to achieve the look you want in camera. With a little help from PiXimperfect's Unmesh Dinda, it's easy to achieve that effect in Photoshop. 

The key to creating convincing light rays, as Dinda demonstrates in his latest tutorial, is a little trick in selecting the proper areas from which to create your effect. Dinda shows that the color range tab in Photoshop not only allows users to select a particular hue, it allows users to select from highlights, midtones, and shadows as well. By selecting highlights and adjusting the sliders just right, it's easy to select the areas that will form the foundation of your light rays. 

After creating a smart object, use the zoom blur tool, place the center of your rays at the light source, add a few enhancements — as detailed by Dinda — and away you go to creating beautiful light rays streaming into your image. 

This technique has obvious applications in landscape photography, but it's also useful in portrait or even commercial photography. 

Did this tutorial help you? Show us how you successfully added light rays to an image and post your work in the comments below. 

Brian Pernicone's picture

Brian Pernicone grew up admiring the coastal waters of New England and that influence is evident in much of his work, which focuses primarily on coastal landscapes, boats, New England wildlife, and water sports.

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