Abandon fake Photoshop lens flares and enhance your photographs with lens flares captured in an actual camera. Vibrantly colored and rich in detail, these flares are created using Nikon, Leica, Fuji, and Pentax cameras. Fairly simple to use, the Principle Light Hits Pack by Lens Distortions is definitely becoming one of my new favorite toys for creative post editing.
If you’re anything like me, you love to back light your images with a hint of sun peaking through a crack or a gap in the background. Or, you may like to place the sun peaking just off frame to create that soft glowing lens flaring that adds a hint of emotion and wonder to your photographs.
The Principle Light Hits pack has built in actions that allow you to essentially set and forget. This gives you the ability to place your lens flare and move on to worry about the color and composition of the photo rather than creating a believable lighting scenario.
There is never a replacement for using the actual sun; however, there is a lot of uncontrollable factors in that scenario as well. Having your light source scatter unexpectedly or too abundantly can easily distract the composition of your images. Creating a lens flare using PS techniques can be fake and goofy looking. Let’s be honest, that fake CGI flare with the super crisp orbs should definitely be on Dani Diamonds top 15 photo Cliches. Creating a believable post lens flare takes multiple curves layers, tedious painting, coloring and even still you can find yourself scratching your head in self doubt - arguably the only true approach is the actual sun. After a few tests and passing some of the Principle Light Hits around the Fstoppers Office, I changed my tune a little bit; some of the results were astounding!
Here is probably an appropriate place to place my philosophy regarding Photoshop. I edit primarily and selectively using Lightroom for efficient work flow. I really only mess with tone, color, and sharpness within realistic parameters. Though I don’t always heed it, I’ve always felt Photoshop should be an emery board rather than a chainsaw (a quote I believe I read on this very site when I was trying to cut my teeth). Essentially, your images should already be there - tight in composition, coloring, and context. For more information on composition, Chris Knight put together a two part comprehensive guide to composition that can be incredibly helpful and interesting. Only once the essentials are in place you can be free to polish an already smoothed stone.
Whether you’re adding to existing lens flares or creating new ones, the Principle Light Hits pack is definitely a viable option for doing this. In some scenarios we added a completely new light source and it seemed to cooperate nicely with the rest of the photo. In other cases, we added the action to an existing flare that wasn’t dramatic enough and were able to manipulate it to the most optimal level. My only reservations, as with anything, is over use. With 40 possible actions, there is an eventual limit of options and alternative edits; I could easily see them being over used. As with anything, they should be used selectively and sparingly.
Lead Image: Using a back lit image of a skier I placed the light leak along the horizon to jive with the current shadows and light directions.
Image 1: Quentin Décaillet uses the Principle Light action to add to enhance a shallow dept of field and existing foreground artifacts.
Image 2: Quentin Décaillet uses the Principle Light action to enhance an off camera light source
Image 3: Jason Vinson uses the Principle Light action as a light source pouring through a skylight.
Image 4: Jason Vinson uses the Principle Light action to enhance an off camera natural light source and add a dynamic element to the composition.