How to Add Lens Flare in Photoshop

If you have ever tried to add lens flare manually, you know that it produces a very magical effect. The only problem with the process is that it is very inconsistent. Not only that, but it could also take you a long time to get your desired result. You want to get that magical effect, but you do not want to go through these problems, right? So, why don’t you learn how to add lens flare in Photoshop? This guide will teach you how to do that. Before we continue, you should know that for the lens flare to look natural, a light source should be visible in the image. For instance, a light bulb or even the sun. 

How to Add Lens Flare in Photoshop

As discussed above, it is possible to add lens flare manually, but it is quite difficult and even time-consuming. For this purpose, let us see how we can use Photoshop to quickly add lens flare to a photo.

Step 1: Apply Lens Flare Filter

The first step is to apply the filter directly to the image. You can find Lens Flare Filter in the Filter menu. Head to the Filter menu, then select Render. There you will see the option of Lens Flare. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl/Command+F to apply the filter. Once you select the filter, you will get the option to choose from four different lenses. These options are based on the focal length of the lens. Therefore, select the one which is like your lens. You can even try all of them and check the Preview Area to see their effects. Next, you will see the option to set the Brightness. To place the filter on the image, click anywhere in the Preview Area. A target symbol will appear which will indicate the center of the Lens Flare. If you want it to look natural, then try placing it on the light source. You can move the filter by clicking and dragging. When you are done, click OK and the filter will be applied.

Step 2: Undo the Filter

Now, you must be confused as to why we did all this just to undo it. The reason behind this is that we applied the filter to the image. However, we need to apply it on a separate layer. If you are not familiar with this concept, then it is called non-destructive editing. We apply the filter on a new layer so that the original image could be preserved. We did the first step to get an idea of where we would be applying the filter on the new layer. Now, let us undo the filter by pressing Ctrl/Command+Z.

Step 3: Add Lens Flare Filter on a New Layer

As discussed above, the previous steps were our preparation and now we learn how to add lens flare in Photoshop. Firstly, add a new layer on top of the image. Head to the Layer Menu and select Add New Layer. Before we apply the filter to this layer, we must fill the layer with black paint. This is done because the Lens Flare filter cannot be added to an empty layer. After applying the paint, add the Lens Flare filter as we did in the first step. Since we adjusted the position of the filter in the first step before undoing it, it will be re-applied in the exact position.
Portrait of a guy with a lens flare

Step 4: Change Layer Blend Mode

As you see, it is easy to learn how to add lens flare in Photoshop in comparison to spending hours doing it manually. In this step, we must remove the black paint by changing the Layer Blend Mode. For this purpose, select the new layer and set the blending mode to Screen. This will convert the filter into an overlay.

Step 5: Adjust Color and Intensity of the Lens Flare

At this stage, you have learned how to add lens flare in Photoshop. Now, you will learn how to make it more natural. Firstly, head into the Image Menu and then choose Adjustments. There, select Hue/Saturation. You must adjust it so that it matches the color and tone of the image. Moreover, you can adjust the intensity using the Layers panel. Select the new layer and decrease the Opacity to match the light source and tone of the image.

Step 6: Add Gaussian Blur

The only thing that remains is to soften the edges of the Lens Flare filter. Luckily, we can add more filters to the new layer. You can choose any blur for this purpose, however, using Gaussian Blur will produce a nice effect.

Conclusion - How to Add Lens Flare in Photoshop

To sum it all up, it is difficult to get a consistent lens flare while doing the shoot. On the other hand, if you learn how to add lens flare in Photoshop, then you can achieve the same result in post-processing. The only thing you should keep in mind is to add the lens flare only when a light source is visible.

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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