Light leak Photoshop effect

April 29th 2010katie

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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Comments (8)

  • Michelle

    April 29th 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks for posting this! I kinda like it. Will definitely give it a go!

  • SJP

    April 30th 2010 at 10:16 am

    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

  • Lolo

    May 1st 2010 at 4:39 pm

    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

  • Samantha @ This Home Sweet Home

    May 1st 2010 at 6:58 pm

    cool tips, can it be done using any other photo editing thingie?

  • katie

    May 10th 2010 at 10:39 pm

    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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  • Charlie

    May 21st 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for posting this Katie. You have amazing, beautiful pictures that look brilliant even without the light leak effects.

  • Alex

    October 26th 2013 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!

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