This tutorial shows how Photoshop’s Lighting Effects filter can strengthen an image’s composition
The Lighting Effects filter is hidden inside the Render set of filters, and is actually a powerful feature of Photoshop.
The filter changes the dynamics of an image’s lighting, giving you control over the positioning, texture properties, intensity and more.
For this filter to work properly, duplicate the Background layer of the image by going to Layer>Duplicate Layer. This allows us to change the blending options for the lighting effect.
To load the filter, go to the Render options in the Filter menu (Lighting Effects is the last option). The first thing to do in the Lighting Effects filter is to choose the style. There are many types of lighting effects under the Style list. Cycle through them all to get a feel for which looks best, using the preview section to see how it affects the image.
For this image we went for the Crossing Down Style option. The next thing to do is set its Light Type. There are three here, but Spotlight worked best. Change the direction of the light by moving the points inside the preview section. You can spin and resize the light to best sit over your subject.
Depending on the contrast of the image you’re working on, set the Intensity slider to change the brightness of the effect. Focus affects how much light is spread over the chosen area, but a maximum of 100 (Wide) looks best.
The remaining adjustments in the Lighting Effects filter change how the light reacts with the surfaces of the subjects involved. These are most useful when rendering 2D or 3D objects that meant to look like a certain material. Hit OK apply the filter to the layer.
To finalise the effect, the filter has blown out the highlights in the background. To bring any highlights back to normal, set the layer’s blend mode to Darken. This blend mode doesn’t boost contrast. To increase contrast, be sure to select the original background layer, and use the Brightness/Contrast adjustment.