by Sarah O’Connor, Contributing Editor
When shooting a session I always have a picture in my mind of the finished product. Many times what is in my mind is not always the reality of the location I am shooting. So sometimes I like to have a little fun in post processing to help the magic from my dreams come to life in the photo.
Here is a trick I use to create Sun Rays in photoshop. In order for this look to be effective you need to start out with a photo that looks like there could naturally be sun rays coming down or it will look too fake. You can adjust this tutorial to be as simple or dramatic as you want for your taste.
Here is my before and after :
First you want to open your photo and duplicate the layer.
1.Select the duplicated layer
2. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Radial Blur
1. Increase the blur amount to around 90
2. Choose Blur Method: Zoom
3. Choose Quality: Good
4: Move the Blur Center to the location of your light source
5. Click “OK”
Below is what your photo will look like
Set your blurred layer to “Multiply”
Add a Layer Mask and select a black brush then paint over your subjects so that they are not hidden by the rays
Lower the opacity of the layer to whatever suits your taste.
I added in a bit of sunburst for more drama. To do this create a New Layer and select the “Radial Gradient” tool
Select a white/transparent gradient effect and drag from the center of your light source outward. Change the opacity of this layer to taste. Flatten image and that’s it.
Here is the final image
Here are a few other before and after photo examples from the same location that I also used the Sun Ray Effect on.
Sarah O’Connor is a creative portrait photographer in the Kansas City area and works mainly with families, newborns & children on location and in her home studio. She lives in Lenexa with her husband, two little boys and a very fluffy Old English Sheepdog.
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