PI6 Ray of Light Photo Effect


ray of light photo effect

I took lots of digital photos when I was on vacation. I made the same mistake in many of them -- My main subject was backlit and in shadow, causing the entire photo to look too dark and lacking in a central focus.

Although PI already has so many cool effects in the Lighting Gallery, it's always fun, and generally useful, to know how to create a custom effect on your own. This tutorial shows you how to salvage a poorly lit photo like this one, which I used here, or to just add a dramatic ray of light to any photo.

Open up your photo and select the Path Drawing tool. In the Attributes toolbar, click Shape and select the Bezier/Polygon tool. From the Mode dropdown menu, choose Selection (see arrows). This way you can make a custom shape selection without having to mess around with the Bezier curve selection tool.

bezier/polygon path shape tool and selection mode

For this image, the ray of light needs to come, logically, from the upper right corner. Click, drag and click to create a shape like this one. You'll need to double click to complete the selection.

Right click on the selection and choose Soften. When the Soften dialog box opens, soften by 30 pixels or so, depending on how large your image is. Once you soften the selection, you'll notice that it gets rounded off and it doesn't match up exactly with the top and right edges of the photo. Switch to the Pick tool and move the selection up and to the right so that it extends off the top and right edges (arrow).

Hit Ctrl+C to copy the selection area into the Clipboard. Hit the space bar to deselect the selection.

Click the Lighten/Darken sun key's minus (-) sign 2-3X to darken the background. In this tutorial, I clicked 2X.

darken background

Hit Ctrl+V to paste the Clipboard contents into the photo. Your former selection is now an object. Drag to position this new object so that it is exactly where it should be in the underlying image. If you have trouble lining it up with the base image, right click on it and choose Properties. Edit the Transparency from the General tab so you can see through to the base image, then edit the Transparency back to zero once you've got everything all lined up.

Now here's the fun part. To create the ray of light, click the Lighten/Darken sun key's plus (+) sign 3X, then click the Contrast key's plus (+) sign 2X. Right click and Merge All. Click the Contrast key's plus sign one more time, and you're done.

Obviously you can custom tailor the ray of light technique to any image, increasing or decreasing the amount of light and darkness you create within various parts of the image. To give you some ideas, here is another application of the ray of light, this time coming from the upper left corner (view original without ray of light effect added).

waterfall scene

This tutorial uploaded 8/10/01

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