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How to Create a Light Leak Effect In Adobe Photoshop (With Actions)

Leaking light into your images might sound like something bad, or a technical mistake, but it can actually really give your images style and impact.

When used properly, light leaks add a new dimension to photographs. Done wrong, however, and you could end up with your main subject obscured by a big blob of light! For this reason, many now chose to insert lighting effect artificially in post-production rather than chancing it in-camera.

Here, we look at five actions from Envato Market to help you add light leaks to your images in Adobe Photoshop, and tutorials to help you make your own.

6 Lomo Actions

With 6 options to choose from, plus an additional vignette option, these actions will add a retro glow to any photograph.

6 Lomo Actions
6 Lomo Actions - Envato Market

Soft Lomo Action

Lomo… but soft! Get a dreamy, soft light with warm red tones when you download this action.

Soft Lomo Action
Soft Lomo Action from Envato Market

Slomo - Smart Lomo Actions for Photoshop

This download includes a set of five lomo actions designed to non-destructively add great light-leak effects to your images.

Slomo - Smart Lomo Actions for Photoshop
Slomo - Smart Lomo Actions for Photoshop from Envato Market

Lomo Leaks Photoshop Action

Lomo Leaks add a gorgeous pop of saturated light to your pictures.  Choose from different styles and colours to get your perfect look. We'll take a closer look at this one shortly.

Lomo Leaks Photoshop Action
Lomo Leaks Photoshop Action from Envato Market

Lomo Image Effect Actions

With two options, Lomo Image Effect Actions lets you add a retro feel and colouring to your images. Adjust the effect intensity to give your images a definitive style.

Lomo Image Effect Actions
Lomo Image Effect Actions from Envato Market

Hot to Use Light Leak Actions

Let's take a look at Lomo Leaks Photoshop Action, to see how it runs and what exactly it does to your images.

example image
An example image to work on

Once you've installed your action, hit play and a box will appear asking you to make a selection. Go to the Light Leaks folder that came with the action download and choose which light leak you’d like to try. This is Light Leak 1:

light leak 1
There are 8 LIght Leak options to choose from

After running the action, you'll see it’s produced a set of layers.

THe action breaks down into 4 layers and the background image

There’s a Colour Fill layer which adds a matte cast to your image. The Black and White layer puts a little more contrast and punchiness back into your shadows and the darker areas of your image. Layer 1 is a duplicate of the background image, with the Blending Mode set to Screen, which lightens it. You can mask out some of these changes if they don’t look right with your image.

Here's another example of how light leaks can brighten up a shot. This is the original image:

example image 2
A second example image, this here's the original

 And here it is after adding a light leak:

light leak example 2
After adding the light leak

 DIY Post-Production Light Flares

Light flares, lens flares, and color effects are fun and easy to do in Photoshop and Lightroom. Here are a few free tutorials to get you started:

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