Let There Be Light

Sun piercing through the leaves? Real or Created?

Easy answer to this one if you are a reader of Green Apples. But we don’t stop here, the finished image is below.

The Original Image

And for those that use PHOTOSHOP….

Wanna know how, Photoshop friends? Good chance if you see an image like the first one here on GA, I did not shoot it with the pretty, warm light beams.  My rainbow shot light beams were real, but that is about as good as I can get it straight from the camera.  So….

Open your original image. It can be anything you like, but best to choose one with little directional light and good contrast of lights, darks and pattern. Mine above could have been a little better with a touch more sky.

Start by going to the Channels Palette and select the blue channel; duplicate the channel.

 Blue Channel copy

Still in the Channels palette, on the duplicate, go to the Image>Adjustment>Levels (Command or Control L) and push the dark slider over to the right to bring out the brightness of the sky and lose the foreground detail. Activate as a selection by holding down the Command or Control Key and click the Layer’s Icon in the Layers Palette. You will get the marching ants around the brightest portions of the image.

Shift back to the Layers Palette and make a new blank layer. On the new layer, with the selection still activated, fill the selection with white. Duplicate this layer and turn off the original layer. We will use it later.

Now for the fun part. Go to the Filter > Blur> Radial Blur. Make sure the Zoom radio button is activated and push the amount of blur to about 75%. Then move the position of the center of where you want the sun to appear on the image by moving the Blur Center. See in the box above how it is shifted over and up. It started in the center of the box. Your ‘sun’ radiates from this center point.

Hit Ok and watch your document get some light! But we need the light to have a little warmth. So…

Double click the layer to bring up Layer Styles so we can add an outer glow. Make sure it is a warm color, or use the default yellow. Click OK.

Duplicate this layer to intensify your light, and bring up control handles by selecting Control or Command T to get free transform to scale it a little larger. Move the center point (the little cross in the middle) to where you want it, and hold down the Shift Key and the Option or Alt Key so it radiates from the center point and click. Wallah…

Now change both layers Blending Modes to Soft Light to make it a little more realistic.

Now we go back to our first layer we duplicated, the Blue Channel. Activate the layer. We are going to create the sunlight hitting the ground. We go to Edit>Transform>Flip Vertical so we turn it upside down. Next, we grab the top, center transform handle and squish the layer down towards the ground so the light is in scale with and on the ground.

Squished, upside down layer

Hit return to accept the action and change the blending mode to Overlay. Duplicate the layer to simulate the harsher sunlight hitting the ground. I reduced opacity because I do not like it so bright. This is a Cory Barker tutorial on NAPP that I learned a while ago, so I believe it works in a few past editions of Photoshop also for those of you with Photoshop 7, CS1 and up.

Now we can add a little mood by affecting exposure, a curve adjustment and cropping. Here is the finished image. All in less than ten minutes.

A touch of the divine…just kidding.

  A little cooling water on a hot, humid day. 


10 thoughts on “Let There Be Light

  1. I love what you can do in Photoshop..perhaps when I get a new camera i will invest int he software…such fun…and I love the effect…the water shot is gorgeous and makes me want to jump right in 🙂

  2. haha, that sun’s rays are stunning, picture perfect as they say. But do ‘people’ know if your photos is just ‘photoshopped’ or real? I dont know or not intending to learn PS, so i will just try to capture the real thing!

  3. You’ve almost convinced me that I must have Photoshop LOL. You should make an arrangement with them for referral fees! Fabulous job and great step by step instructions too.

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