13 Jan Creating Light Leaks in Photoshop

Source: About Photography - Tom Grill

A little while ago I saw some light leak photos my photographer-daughter, Jamie, did using color negative film in an old Nikon F2 mostly on her Instagram feed. She would flash the roll part way through by opening the camera back slightly to let some light streaks seep in. This started me thinking about ways I could produce similar effects using overlays in Photoshop. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I was creating an entirely new set of Light Leak Photoshop Overlays and preparing to market them through MCP Actions, where my other overlay packs are sold.

One thing I learned rather after a lot of experimenting was that I needed to create different versions of the light leak overlays to be used for both light and dark images. I also needed to create some flat, overall color blurs to help harmonize the multiple image overlays.

The portrait below was created by stacking two overlays. One overlay was a blurred, colored image of 35mm film, and the other was one of my standard light leak overlays on black.  (See the overlay samples further below.)  The background on this image was very dark, so I used overlays that required a Photoshop layer mode change of “Screen”.


This image of the wedding couple is one of the more typical application of light leak overlays.  It is a combination of three overlays.  Two of them are against black and their Photoshop layer modes were changed to “Screen”. The third overlays

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