Adding Flare to your Images

Good morning and a happy Monday all! I promised I’d write a tutorial on how to add sun/lens flare to your photos if you didn’t quite manage it in-camera. I normally do most of my editing in LightRoom because I love how fast it is to batch edit photos. However for detailed portrait editing and special effects I import into Adobe Elements. Here’s a pic I already did a basic edit on in LR, but I didn’t quite manage to get the flare I was hoping for, so brought into Elements to play with. (If I’d waited a bit longer I could probably have caught the sun rising higher but I was on a tight time schedule!). It helps if the photo you’re working with has an obvious place where the light is coming from, here the sun is just beginning to appear in the background so it should look pretty natural to have the lens flare originating from there. Keep it believable and logical when you add these effects and people will have a hard time knowing what was caught in-camera and what wasn’t.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 09.58.36

The first thing to remember is to never work on the original image, always create a different layer so you don’t damage any of the pixels (another reason I love LR is that you don’t have to think about this). I made a copy of the background layer and then went to the Lens Flare Filter.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.00.52

You get a few choices as to which effect you want. I’m using the 105mm prime but choose the one that looks best in your image. You can see I’ve moved the cross to the position I want the lens flare to start from and I’ve left the brightness at 100%.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.01.28

So after clicking ‘OK’ I got something like this…

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.01.56

I really didn’t like those bizarre spheres of light in the foreground. Not to worry, I added a layer mask onto the layer with my Lens Flare on it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.04.57

Then using a soft brush at a lowish opacity I started brushing away those spheres.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.05.27

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.06.56

I also felt the light was too white, and I wanted something warmer, so added a Levels adjustment layer. Then I went into the Red channel and Green Channel and played with them until I got the colour of light I was looking for. Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.07.21

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.07.57

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.08.13

Obviously the whole image is affected by these changes but I brushed away the colour on all the areas I didn’t want it (the Levels Adjustment Layer already has a layer mask in place). Here’s the work in progress.. I altered the opacity of the brush on different areas depending how warm I felt the light should be that was hitting them.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.09.17

After that it was a case of lowering the opacity of the layer until I was happy with the effect, then importing back into LR for any finishing touches. Here’s the final image, I wanted the effect to be quite subtle but of course you can really go to town with it.


Hope you found that useful – have fun with it!


3 thoughts on “Adding Flare to your Images

  1. That’s a good tutorial for lens flare. I don’t have lightroom, but could possibly do it in PhotoShop. Love the photo too.

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