Light leak Photoshop effect

I’ve noticed lately that there’s a trend for photography with a dreamy washed-out rainbow effect which kind of apes a light-leaked film. I’m not generally a fan of faking the natural blips and errors that occur in 35mm film; it often looks overdone and obvious, but I just tried out this effect for fun. The results are quite pleasing, if not a little cheesy:

Here’s how it’s done.


Open your photo and create a new layer above it.


Now make a really gaudy colored diagonal gradient in the new layer – 2 or 3 colours. I used neon green-yellow-pink for this one.


Set the blending mode of the layer to ‘soft light’ and adjust the opacity until it looks a bit more subtle. All done!


Try different colours for a kinda cross-processed effect. Here’s blue-orange-red.

And a more subtle one, pinks and purples.

P.S. These photos were taken in Devon on my work weekend away – more photos from the trip on Flickr.


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8 thoughts on “Light leak Photoshop effect”

  1. Very beautiful – I agree that faking printing quirks are not as satisfying as genuine mistakes but these images look very natural – will def try this! x

  2. I've just stumbled across your blog and it's really great! It's getting added to my google reader for sure :)
    I like this effect on the last photo the best. I think because it's slightly subtler.
    I love my digital slr but nothing beats using a film camera and then waiting to get the film developed!

    http://www.loloholmes.tumblr.com

  3. Hi Samantha, as long as your program supports layers and blending modes you should be able to create the effect.. I can't recommend any specifically as i only use Photoshop!

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