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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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  1. Michelle

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

  2. SJP

    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

  3. Lolo

    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!

  4. Samantha @ This Home Sweet Home

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

  5. katie

    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!

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

  7. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!

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