Light leaks, although sometimes unintentional, can add some character and intrigue to a photo. In many cases light leaks can be used to create a vintage feel. While light leaks are ideally captured in-camera, Lightroom also makes it possible to artificially add a light leak effect.
When working with light leaks in Lightroom the results will vary greatly from one photo to the next, so the first step is to get a photo that will work well with the effect. Below you’ll see the sample photo that will be used for the tutorial (photo credit goes to Gratisography, you can download it from that site if you’d like).
By the way, if you want to save some time you can download this light leak as a preset, or purchase our huge set of 70 light leak presets.
This photo is a good candidate for a light leak effect because it already has some light coming in from the right side of the photo, we’re just going to enhance it. Here is a sneak peak at the end result.
Ok, let’s get started. The light leak will be created with Lightroom’s handy graduated filter tool, and you can use the keyboard shortcut “M” to open the graduated filter. When the graduated filter tool is activated you should see a set of controls like the one shown below. The settings will be at the top right side in the develop module.
We’re going to use three different graduated filters to create our light leak effect. With the graduated filter tool click near the right side of your photo and drag in towards the center of the photo. Don’t worry about being precise, you can adjust the details after it has been applied by moving the center pin or the outer lines. Adjust your graduated filter so it looks basically like the one shown below.
Then adjust the sliders to match the settings below.
Next, click on “new” to add another graduated filter.
Then click on the photo again and drag towards the center of the image to create the 2nd filter. This pin will be placed closer to the right edge of the photo.
And use these settings for the 2nd filter.
Then repeat the process again by clicking “new” and creating your third graduated filter. This one should be even closer to the edge of the photo, as shown below.
And apply these settings to the sliders for the third filter.
After those changes the light leak effect is complete! Here is the final product.