Lens flares can add visual interest to your photographs.  Unfortunately the preview window Photoshop gives you for placing the flare is frustratingly small.  The following short tutorial steps you through precise placement of the lens flare effect on your image.

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop

Step 2

Open the Info window.  You may have it docked on your workspace, if it is not available go the  “Window” menu and select “Info” or hit the [F8] key.

Step 3

Check that your measurement settings in the Info window are set to Pixels.  Locate and click the drop down arrow next to the X Y coordinates quadrant of the Info Window and select “Pixels”

Set Info to measure in pixels

 Step 4

Put your cursor over the spot in your image where you want the Lens Flare effect to start and make a note of the X and Y coordinates.

Position your cursor


Step 5

Alt+Click (Option+click on Mac) the new layer icon in your layers palette. The New Layer options window will appear.  Name your layer “Lens Flare”, change the Mode to: “Hard Light”,  and check the box next to “Fill with Hard-Light-neutral color (50% gray) then click [OK]



Step 6

With the new “Lens Flare” layer selected, go to the “Filter” menu >”Render” > “Lens Flare“, the Lens Flare Window will appear.

Apply Lens Flare filter


Step 7

Select the Lens Type and Brightness for the  flare you want to use.  I usually leave the Brightness at 100% and select 50-300mm Zoom as the Lens Type, but you may want to try different settings.

Step 8

Alt+click (Option+click on Mac) in the small Lens Flare preview window that appears you will then have access to the “Precise Flare Center” setting.  Type in the X and Y coordinates you took note of in Step 4 then click [OK]

type in flare coordinates


You now have your lens flare, placed right where you want it in the image.  Since the lens flare effect is on its own layer, you have more control over the effect and can adjust the transparency, and add  clipped adjustment layers like hue/saturation to further refine the flare.

Final Lens Flare Applied