Home / Articles / Adobe Photoshop / Creative Lighting Effects with Adobe Photoshop CS6

Creative Lighting Effects with Adobe Photoshop CS6

  • Date: Apr 23, 2012.

Contents

  1. Lighting Effects UI
  2. Creating and Placing Lights
  3. Conclusion

Article Description

Lighting Effects has been around a long time, but the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop CS6 is essentially a brand new feature in the sense that it has been completely remade. This article provides a general overview of the filter (including its new interface), and demonstrates how you can use Lighting Effects to dramatically impact the composition or look of your photographs.

Like this article? We recommend

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book

$54.99

Creating and Placing Lights

Creating and Placing Lights

When you first open Lighting Effects, you are presented with a single Spot Light and no Material settings, the net effect of which is you have a black image with a small portion of your pixels illuminated. To get started with this example I want to modify and place a Spot Light near the glowing cloud structures in the top-left portion of the photo.

Let’s take a look at how the Spot Light widget on the document preview can be used to move and transform our virtual lights. First notice there is an outer oval with four handles located along its periphery and one handle in the middle (Figure 6). You can move the Spot Light (keeping the shape intact) by clicking and dragging inside the oval itself. You can use any of the four outer handles to rotate the oval or change its shape. As you change the shape, the Hotspot shape also changes.

Figure 6: Click and drag inside the light oval to move it. Use the handles to change its shape and the size and shape of the Hotspot.

For this example I first rotated the oval so that the Hotspot was inverted (at the bottom of the oval) and then stretched it out so that it threw a longer light across the image (Figure 7).

Figure 7: You can use a Spot Light to accentuate an area of interest in your photograph.

Next, I needed to reintroduce some ambient light to the scene without making it as bright as the original. The idea here is that I wanted the factory in the background and the other details to be more like silhouettes than visible objects with details that you can see. The easiest way to do this is to add Ambience (or ambient light) to the scene. This is accomplished using the Ambience control near the bottom of the Properties panel. In this case, I boosted the value to 65.

This gave me the general effect I wanted, but it also over-brightened the Hotspot in my Spot Light. In other words, Ambience will combine with the Intensity value of the lights that you have in the scene, thereby increasing their brightness or intensity.(Figure 8). Note that Intensity can be controlled directly by moving the Intensity slider in the Properties panel or by clicking and dragging on the white segment (looks like a black circle with a portion that is white) inside each light.

Figure 8: Adding Ambience to your scene is a good way to precisely control background brightness, but it can also increase the Brightness of your lights.

A good way to deal with over-cooked Hotspots is to reduce the Material Exposure. This tends to have the effect of pulling back the highlights without further darkening the Ambience or other areas of your Spot Light. If you reduce the Intensity, I find that this can reduce the “reach” of a Spot Light as well, not just the brightness inside the HotSpot. That was the opposite of what I wanted here, since the idea was to brighten up the torch-like structure in the clouds.

I reduced the Exposure value to -33, and then nudged the entire Spot Light upward so that the bright area coincides with the bottom of the brightest portion of the cloud formation. This creates a more natural looking result than the “bright halo” seen in Figure 8. I also narrowed the Spot Light slightly (Figure 9).

Figure 9: You can use negative Exposure values for the Material in order to recover lost highlights from the combination of Ambience and Spot Light Intensity.

Next I wanted to add some warmth to the cloud formation. To change the Color of a light, click the Color widget (located to the left of the Intensity value). This will open a standard Photoshop color dialog. Here I chose a light orange color to match what we’d expect from a sunset and to contrast with the blue-gray surroundings (Figure 10). Note that if you use a brighter or darker color, that will tend to make the light itself brighter or darker. As in the real world, all light sources and colors interact and combine.

Figure 10: Changing the Color value of your Spot Lights can create a more interesting lighting effect.

Once I had the result I wanted for the “cloud torch” area, I needed to selectively brighten certain regions near the top of the frame to add an element of realism. The torch area would not be as bright as it is without some other nearby, thinner cloud formations also being brighter. To accomplish this I needed a Point Light. I clicked the Point Light button in the Options Bar and then placed it in the general area I wanted to brighten, before tweaking the settings (Figure 11).

Figure 11: Point Lights are a great way to brighten portions of your image to match with other environmental cues. Here the initial light is shown at the default size and settings.

To increase or reduce the diameter of a Point Light, move your cursor over the green circle until it turns yellow, then click and drag (inward to decrease, outward to increase). Again there is an Intensity control located inside the Point Light, just as there is in a Spot Light. For this situation I wanted a much smaller light and a lower Intensity value with a blue-grey color (Figure 12).

Figure 12: The addition of small Point Lights can help to illuminate specific regions of the image without the Hotspot or intensity of a Spot Light.

The last step is to add one more (very small) Point Light, near the factory at the bottom of the frame. This will create a small “hot spot” that was there in the original series of exposures, but which has been muted by the lower ambient light of the filter. For this light I added a warmer color. This also lit up the bottom edge of the clouds slightly (Figure 13).

Figure 13: The final lighting effect, before it is applied to the Smart Object layer.

To put the finishing touches on many images, you may have to do a bit of extra work back in “regular” Photoshop mode. In this case, I needed to retouch some of the cloud areas to the left of my Spot Light, as the “cone” it creates is visible and unnatural looking (Figure 14).

Figure 14: Some visual cues that a lighting filter was used remain, and may need to be cleaned up with minor retouching edits afterward.

The easiest way to remedy this situation was to use the Burn tool in Protect Tones mode. I set the Range to Shadows, the Exposure value below 10, and then brushed a few strokes over the “light cone” area to the left of the main cloud formation. I also used the Spot Healing Brush in Content-Aware mode to soften some of the distracting elements in the clouds and throughout the shot. The retouched shot is shown in Figure 15.

Figure 15: When used in tandem with Photoshop’s powerful retouching tools, the Lighting Effects filter offers a lot of creative possibility!

3. Conclusion | Next Section Previous Section

Adobe Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Adobe Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview

Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Adobe Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security

Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children

This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing

Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out

Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.adobepress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020