Creating Lights and Shadows

Lights and shadows add drama to almost any photograph. There's still no better way to implement lighting effects than by planning for your lighting before you take your picture. However, there are times when you just can't control these factors, and Photoshop Elements includes some nifty filters to help you enhance the lighting after the fact.

The Lighting Effects filter lets you create a seemingly infinite number of effects through a combination of light styles, properties, and even a texture channel. It's almost like having your own lighting studio right on your desktop. The Lens Flare filter simulates the refraction of light shining inside a camera lens. This filter works really well if you've created an image with Photoshop Elements' painting and drawing tools and want to make it look like it was shot with a camera. You'll see this technique used quite a bit in computer-animated movies to give them a more realistic look. Keep in mind, however, that your image must be in RGB mode to use these lighting filters.

To add lighting effects to an image


Select the desired layer to make it active. To confine the lighting effect to just a portion of your image, select an area using one of the selection tools.


Select the Lighting Effects filter by doing one of the following:

  • Double-click the Lighting Effects filter on the Filters palette (Figure 7.29).

    Figure 7.29. The Lighting Effects filter appears in the Render category on the Filters palette menu.

  • From the Filter menu, choose Render > Lighting Effects.

The Lighting Effects dialog box appears (Figure 7.30).

Figure 7.30. When you first open the Lighting Effects dialog box, it may seem a bit intimidating. But it only takes a little experimentation with the settings to see the range of effects possible with this filter.


Choose a Style (Figure 7.31).

Figure 7.31. The Style drop-down menu reveals 15 unique lighting styles.


Choose a Light Type (Figure 7.32).

Figure 7.32. The Light Type drop-down menu.

The Light Type drop-down menu includes Directional, Omni, and Spotlight options. Each lighting style is based on one of these three light types.


Set light properties (Figure 7.33).

Figure 7.33. The Properties area of the Lighting Effects dialog box offers an almost infinite combination of settings that you can use to change the appearance and intensity of the lighting.


When you are satisfied with the effect, click OK to apply it to your image (Figure 7.34).

Figure 7.34. After selecting the lighting options you want, click OK to apply them to your image. This image has the Triple Spotlight filter applied.

Light styles and types

The Lighting Effects dialog box offers a mind-boggling number of properties, light types, and styles, making it more than a little difficult to figure out where to start. Here's a list of some of the most useful lighting styles and types, along with some pointers on how styles work with light types and properties.

Lighting styles

Flashlight focuses a direct spotlight on the center of the image, with the rest of the image darkened. It's set at a medium intensity with a slightly yellow cast.

Floodlight has a wider focus and casts a white light on your image.

Soft Omni and Soft Spotlight provide gentle lightbulb and spotlight effects respectively, and work well for many different kinds of images.

Blue Omni adds a blue overhead light to your image and offers insight into how lighting styles and types work together. If you select this light type, you'll see a blue color box in the Light Type area of the dialog box. If you click on this box, the Color Picker appears (Figure 7.35), letting you change the color to anything you want. Once you've chosen a new color, click Save to apply your custom lighting style to your photo.

Figure 7.35. Some lighting styles, such as Blue Omni, include colored lights. You can change the color by clicking the lighting color box, which opens the Color Picker.

This is not a comprehensive list of all the lighting styles in the Lighting Effects dialog box, but an overview of the styles you'll find most useful. Most of the remaining lighting styles create more dramatic and specialized effects (for example, RGB Lights consists of red, yellow, and blue spotlights), but are worth exploring if you want to add more creative effects to your image.

Light types

Directional creates an angled light that shines from one direction across your photo (Figure 7.36).

Figure 7.36. The Directional light produces a light source that shines in one direction across your photo, as indicated by the line in the image preview window.

Omni produces a light that shines down on your image from above (Figure 7.37).

Figure 7.37. The Omni light creates the impression of a light shining directly onto your photo. To change the size of the lit area, just drag one of the boundary handles.

Spotlight creates a round spotlight in the center of your image. In preview mode, you'll see that the boundaries of the light look like an ellipse. You can change the size of the ellipse by dragging any of the handles. To change the direction of the light, just drag to move the line (Figure 7.38).

Figure 7.38. The Spotlight is represented by an elliptical boundary in the preview. Drag a handle to change the area being lit, and drag the lighting direction line to change the direction of the light source.

When you select a light style, it automatically defaults to whichever light type best supports that lookso, for example, the Floodlight style uses the Spotlight type.

Light properties

Once you've chosen a light style and type, you have complete control over four different lighting properties. To change these, just move the sliders to the left or right.

Gloss establishes how much light reflects off your image and can be set from Matte (less reflection) to Shiny (more reflection).

Material determines how much light reflects off your image. It can be set from Plastic to Metallic (and quite frankly, I find these descriptive terms less than helpful). As you move the setting toward Plastic, the color of your light grows stronger, and if you choose Metallic, the color of your image shows through more.

Exposure increases or decreases the light. If you click through the light types, you'll notice that most of them leave this setting at 0, or very close. This is one setting you may just want to leave as is or make only subtle changes to since it has such a pronounced impact on the light.

Ambience refers to ambient lighting, or how much you combine the particular lighting effect with the existing light in your photo. Positive values allow in more ambient light, and negative values allow less.

To add a lens flare


Select the desired layer to make it active. To confine the lighting effect to just a portion of your image, select an area using one of the selection tools.


Select the Lens Flare filter by doing one of the following:

  • Double-click the Lens Flare filter on the Filters palette (Figure 7.39).

    Figure 7.39. The Lens Flare filter is located just before the Lighting Effects filter on the Filters palette.

  • From the Filter menu, choose Render > Lens Flare.

The Lens Flare dialog box appears, with options for the brightness, flare center, and lens type (Figure 7.40).

Figure 7.40. The Lens Flare dialog box is much simpler than the one used for Lighting Effects. Use this dialog box to adjust the brightness, flare center, and lens type.


Set the brightness option by dragging the slider to the right to increase or to the left to decrease the brightness.


To move the flare center, just click the image preview to move the crosshairs to another location.


Set the Lens Type options as desired, and when you're happy with what you see, click OK to apply the filter to your image (Figure 7.41).

Figure 7.41. To add more atmosphere to this photo, I applied the Lens Flare filter with the default brightness of 135 percent and the 50300mm Zoom lens option.

The options include settings for three common camera lenses (50300mm Zoom, 35mm, and 105mm), plus Movie Prime, and the filter creates a look similar to the refraction or lens flare you'd get with each one (Figure 7.42).

Figure 7.42. The subtle differences among the three lens options are shown here.

Photoshop Elements 4 for Windows. Visual QuickStart Guide
Photoshop Elements 4 for Windows (Visual Quickstart Guide)
ISBN: 0321423356
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 178 © 2008-2017.
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