So since last Fall I’ve been working on how to apply Light Leaks in Lightroom, and I have hesitated to do this post. Why, you say? Because while they can work and be cool, there is so much variability in Light Leaks. It is true for any presets you buy, but the more I test Light Leaks, the more I realize that it takes a lot of work to get it right.
So what I have for you today is two options. I have prepared a set of free Light Leaks Presets that are just “Click. Apply. Done.” There are 15 presets, and you can just apply and see what works. Here are a few image examples of me applying the Presets as is.
But for more advanced users, who love using the Adjustment Brushes and the Graduated and Radial Filters, I have a set of Brushes that you can install and get your Creative on!
Let’s have a quick tutorial so you can get to playing with your new brushes.
NOTE: These downloads are in zipped files and may give you a security warning when you download. Just continue the download.
(parts of these Presets will work in Lightroom 3 and 4, but none of the effects that use the Radial Filter)
Lightroom Light Leaks Tutorial
Here is the photo of Indianapolis, Indiana, that I will begin with. The Light Leaks I apply will probably be bolder than you would normally do, but I want to make sure that you see what I am doing here.
Choose the Adjustment Brush first, and scroll to the bottom of the Panel where you will see Size, Feather, Flow, Density. These are the things that are not controlled by a Preset. These are set to the way you used them last. A good start would be to set Size:25, Feather:50, Flow:50, Density:50. These settings make for the biggest variability in what you end up seeing. So you may have to tweak them as you go. This is the “learning curve” of Light Leaks.
Now, the Light Leaks brushes are installed in the drop down menu that you will see at the top next to the word Effect (just above Temp). Click on the drop down menu and choose the color you want to paint with. I chose LL-Hot Pink. Then I painted the entire right edge of the image with the brush. The effect will get darker if you go over it more than once. I went over it a few times to get this result:
For the next Light Leak, open up the Graduated Filter. It is the tall rectangle two places to the left of the Adjustment Brush. Again, I choose a Light Leak color from the drop down menu. This time I choose LL-Orange. BUT, for the Graduated Filter, you are not going to have Size, Feather, Flow or Density. I clicked on the right side of the image, and drug the Graduated Filter right a little. This gave the left edge an orange Light Leak that fades back into the image. It doesn’t always look true orange. It will have everything to do with the colors in your image. It wasn’t dark enough for me…so I just brought down the Exposure a little. Here is the result:
You can also apply Light Leaks with the Radial Filter. And the reason you might like using it is because it will give a curved line. So choose the Radial Filter, which is the circle right next to the Adjustment Brush. Then choose a Light Leak Color in the drop down menu. I choose LL-Purple.
When you choose the Radial Filter, it will give you a plus sign with your cursor. You need to click and drag to make a circle or oval shape. After you make the shape, you can always adjust by clicking on the four outsides. When you apply a radial filter, it will default to making it’s changes be OUTSIDE the circle you made. But in this case, I wanted to apply the Light Leak INSIDE the circle, so I clicked on Invert Mask. I created a circle shape in the bottom left corner. Here you can see the purple hue that resulted:
Now, the fine tuning. I created two more Light Leak Brushes that are just for the details. One is called LL-Make Darker, and the other LL-Make Lighter. These will help you blend and make it all look right.
First, I decided that the pink on the right could use some edge darkening, so I used the LL-Make Darker Brush to burn it a little. Again, the effect will be bolder the more you apply over and over. And you can also make adjustments with Flow, Density, or even Exposure.
And finally, I used the LL-Make Lighter Brush for a few spots to add more light. A little to the left of the pink Light Leak. And I applied a little to the edge of the purple Light Leak, which made a lightening in the water there as well.
These Light Leaks can be so fun! But it will take practice! I hope this tutorial gave you a good start! I would love for you to use the image below to Pin to your Pinterest Boards! Thank you!