How to Light Photos with Photoshop The lighting effects in Photoshop is a truly magical tool

In this video, Colin Smith from PhotoshopCAFE shows how you can use the lighting effects feature in Photoshop to change the lighting in an image.

Photoshop is a very complex piece of software and whenever you think you have seen every feature it has (here on LensVid we have hundreds of Photoshop Tutorials) comes a new one and shows us another feature or tool that we never knew existed inside the software (update: looking back on our list of videos we actually found Aaron Nace’s video on the lighting effects in Photoshop from 2015 – still fun to remember especially if you missed that one).

You can find the “lighting effects” feature inside the filter>render>lighting effects in Photoshop, just make sure your image is in RGB mode (not in CMYK mode) and should work in most versions of Photoshop.

In the module you have 3 types of lights:

  1. Spotlight – cast a spotlight coming from a specific direction.
  2. Point light – this will light an area around a specific point (think of a light bulb in space).
  3. Infinite light – lights evenly in a direction (maybe a bit light the sun).

You have several options to play with the light after you place it including adding color (basically just like a gel over your physical light). You can, of course, add more than one light and you have specific presets that you can use that try and mimic different types of lights (flood lights, flashlight, soft direct light etc.). Another important option is adding ambient light which increases the general brightness level of the image (we are not sure how this differs from increasing the brightness of the image though).

On the video Smith plays with three different lights and creates a pretty amazing image edit by putting two lights with colors that add some color to some powder on the sides of two dancers. In the next photo, he plays with an image of several old barrels to make it more dramatic. In our view, this tool can be super useful for product photography although you might be able to use it for all sorts of different photos. We can’t wait to try this tool on our next edit…

You can find many more Photoshop video tutorials on LensVid’s Photoshop section. You can find more PhotoshopCAFE videos here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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