CoffeeShop Sun Kissed PS/PSE UnWrapped Tutorial and Action!

UPDATE!  I have posted a new tutorial with some tips/tricks for this action, you can read it here, and I have also posted a newer version of Sun Kissed here!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today I want to talk about lens flare. Sometimes you are lucky and you can get amazing lens flare like I did in this image of my boys playing in the back field. However, there are other times you have great light in your image but you want to enhance the lens flare look and even add a bit of tint...  At the end of the tutorial I have a link to download an action I wrote to go along with this tutorial.It is all about being artistic!

I am going to start with this simple image. The best images are ones that you can see which direction the light is coming from AND has an area of bright sky showing. I used this image to show you that you can add lens flare even when you don't have any light sky or natural lens flare present. You can see the light is coming from the upper right, but no lens flare... So why don't we add a photoshopped version. There are a million ways to do this edit, but I will show you one way I would try.

I made 3 duplicates of my background (Ctrl-J) and labeled them (from the top) Contrast bump, Lighten, and Lens flare.

I started with the top layer, Contrast bump, and put that layer in soft light blending mode, 50% opacity. You can also use overlay and/or play with the layer opacity. This is a good starting point, you can always tweak it later.

I put the Lighten layer in screen blending mode, 50% opacity. This lightens the midtones.

Now I am going to add my sun or lens flare. Click to select your Lens flare layer, and then go to Filter, Render, Lens Flare.

I usually use the top lens type (50-300mm zoom) but I would suggest trying all of them to see what you like best. You also have to physically move the lens flare to location and adjust the brightness to taste. Press OK. This layer I keep in normal blending mode, 100% opacity.

You might want to add in some haze. Simply click on the Lighten layer and then add a Levels adjustment layer. Click on the little black Output levels triangle (red arrow) and move it to the right approx. midway. Keep this layer in Normal and lower the opacity of that haze layer to taste.

You might want to add a color filter. I want this to look like afternoon sun, so I added a Photo adjustment layer on top and used Warming filter 81 (I also love 85), 50% density, and checked preserve luminosity.

Now you can play with all of the layers to enhance the effect for your individual image. I decided I wanted more lens flare, so I simply clicked on the lens flare layer, duplicated it, and put the copy in screen blending mode, 100% opacity. You can also reduce lens flare by lowering the opacity of the layer.

I also decided to add some more haze. I turned off the Contrast bump layer and upped the haze layer (Levels) up to 75% opacity. I like this low-contrast hazy effect.

By simply adjusting the layers (blending modes and opacities), you can get so many great looks. Try turning off the lens flare layer and bring up the haze layer opacity. Play with these layers, this action does so much.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to fake your sun/lens flare!

Download the free CoffeeShop Sun Kissed PSE/PS Action!

Want all of my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one simple download AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


Christina February 14, 2010 at 11:03 AM  

Thank you, Rita!

Debbie February 14, 2010 at 1:13 PM  

Beautiful action Rita...many thanks! Happy Valentines Day to you and yours! :)

Vicki February 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM  

Thank you for another wonderful action and tutorial!

crsmith February 14, 2010 at 2:45 PM  

great tut! thanks for sharing, I have been wanting to know how to add some faux lens flare! happy v-day!

Robby February 14, 2010 at 2:58 PM  

Thanks Rita.....I love this look but didn't want to aim at the might break my need to worry now!!!! I love it. Thanks again for all of the actions!!! xxxRobby

ChrisA. February 14, 2010 at 5:34 PM  

Thank you so much for the action. I love lens flare (usually I get it by accident).

Beautiful photos!

Annie February 14, 2010 at 6:55 PM  

Thank you sweetie!!! You're the BEST!!!!

Angela February 14, 2010 at 8:32 PM  

Thank you so much Rita! I was just trying to figure this out this past week! Mmmwwwah!

Lori February 15, 2010 at 12:40 AM  

Thank you for freebies. Link on your post was added to Lori's freebie list

CraftCrave February 15, 2010 at 7:55 AM  

Thank you! This blog post will be advertised on CraftCrave in the Tutorials category today (look for timestamp: [15 Feb 01:00pm GMT]).

HeidiRose February 15, 2010 at 10:12 AM  

Oh Yes!! Thank you for the walk-through.
I'd always rather learn HOW to do something than use an action.

CBH February 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM  

Thank you so much for this Freebie. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 14 post on Feb. 15, 2010. Thanks again.

Anonymous February 15, 2010 at 12:56 PM  

My first (but not last) visit and I am blown away! I got photoshop elements for Christmas - not even installed it yet! Too scared! This site is invaluable. Many many thanks. - Dawn

way outnumbered February 15, 2010 at 8:29 PM  

I just used this today on a snow pic and I LOVE it! Of course I had great intentions to "do it myself" following your tutorial but you just make it way too easy to use the action! ~thank you~

Anonymous February 16, 2010 at 10:30 AM  

Looks like another awesome action! TFS. -- A Canuck

Jo February 16, 2010 at 11:15 AM  

This is one of my FAVS that you have done!! LOVE it and overuse it!! LOL!!

Any idea when the PW actions that you converted will be available? Just curious.

Jo February 18, 2010 at 8:22 AM  


This is my favorite action to date!! I even used it on a photo to give the illusion of a great window light source!!

carrie February 18, 2010 at 11:01 AM  

I love it when you explain the long way to do these! I've learned so much from that!

Anonymous February 18, 2010 at 12:23 PM  

thanks for this... It worked perfectly for a photo I had taken of my daughter and her kitty. the sun was behind them, but no it's a spectacular shot, according to me..haha. thanks again!

Linda February 18, 2010 at 12:39 PM  

Thanks, Rita.

Courtney aka CB February 18, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

I just found your website/blog and I am loving your tutorials. I am new to PSE and your tutorials are really helping me understand what the program can do. Thank you!

zoha February 21, 2010 at 4:23 AM  

Thank you Rita,
i love flare and you tutorial is so good

Ch4ttyC4thy February 22, 2010 at 4:57 PM  

Just wanted to let you know that I am learning so much just reading through your blog! Thank you so much!

Kelly February 26, 2010 at 11:16 PM  

i just found your website and am so happy i did! the tutorials are awesome! but i have a problem. i'm running PSE 6 on Windows 7 and can't find a photo effects folder to save my soul. i don't know where to load the actions. my files aren't the same ones you have so kindly listed in your screen shot. any ideas?

Catherine April 5, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

wowza!!! thanks so much.. you're a beauty asset to digital editing

Anonymous May 24, 2010 at 7:57 PM  

What an amazing and generous place this is!! :)
Many thanks!!

Vee Hagen Photography July 24, 2010 at 3:49 AM  

Hi there! Love the site and the tutorials/actions are helpful! Thank you. Here is my blogspot :) Anyone up for a offer of critque?

-self taught

SarahinSC August 11, 2010 at 7:34 PM  

Thank you so much for the free actions! I'm just learning and I really apprciate all of your knowledge!

PhotosByAnn January 6, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

I just came upon you site and I am so excited to try to learn from you and enhance my images! Thank you so much!

Tracey Clifton April 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM  

Rita, thankyou so much...I have learned so much here!!

Heather June 1, 2011 at 3:28 PM  

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am learning SO MUCH from you, and I am so excited to try this action!!

{th}ink August 11, 2011 at 2:39 PM  

This was a great tutorial! Thanks so much.

Dane August 13, 2011 at 1:58 PM  

Thanks so much for sharing your actions and how you made them. I am learning a lot, I really, really appreciate it!

Asma September 10, 2011 at 5:47 PM  


Thats where I used ur action I love it :)

Life with Kaishon August 16, 2012 at 8:09 AM  

Excellent tutorial. Thank you :) The Creativity Project on facebook posted a link to this today and I am so glad they did!

kessi November 10, 2012 at 10:08 PM  

Thank you! Goodness, I can't thank you enough. I've been working on creating my own PS lens flare for what seems like ages, and you're just better at it than I am! Thank you again for sharing, you rock!

Kate Brown May 2, 2013 at 10:31 PM  

Does this not work with pse9? When I uploaded it, it said it wasn't compatible.

Laura and Ryan July 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM  

Thank you so much for the actions! I love them! For some reason I can't move the sun flare to another place on my photo. Am I doing something wrong?

Sarah October 11, 2013 at 6:58 PM  

Love this action. Thanks so much. It's exactly what I was looking for but wasn't able to create on my own! I'm just wondering if there's an easy way to move the flare around to different parts of the image?