Adding a Little Flare in Photoshop

I shoot a lot of images of cameras for my books and the other day I was looking at a shot of the Canon T1i.  It was a pretty simply image of the front of the camera with the standard kit lens attached.  As studio shots go, it’s not bad but I thought to myself that it might look a little better with a little flare on the lens.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it so here is how I did it.

After opening the image in Photoshop I grabbed my Marquee selection tool and changed it to the circular selection.  I then held down the Shift and Alt keys, which let me select a perfect circle that expands from the center on out.  If the circle ends up being a little too small or large, just right-click on the selection and click on Transform Selection to adjust the size. Just make sure you hold the Shift key while dragging a corner to maintain the aspect ratio.


Once the selection was in place I pressed CMD+C to copy the selection and then CMD+N to create a new document.  When the dialog box opened, I just clicked OK since the size of the new document will be the size of whatever is copied to the clipboard.

New Document

When the new blank document opens I pressed CMD+V to paste the copied item into the new document. Then I  CMD-clicked on the new pasted layer icon to select it and the filled the selection with black (press D to set the default colors and then Alt+Delete to fill it with black)

Fill black

The next step was to go to the menu bar and click on Filter > Render > Lens Flare

Lens Flare

When the dialog box opened, I simply selected the flare that I liked best and dragged the center point of the flare towards the upper corner of the circle (yes, I know that circles don’t have corners but you know what I mean). I tend to prefer the 105 Prime set to about 132%. I then clicked on the OK button to add the flare to the circle.


The next step was to make the flare appear that it was on the curved surface of a lens so to do that I needed to go back to the menu and select Filter > Distort > Spherize.


When the dialog opened, I adjusted the slider until the surface appeared to have the same curvature as my front lens element. I selected a setting of 70%, which looked pretty close to me.  I then clicked OK to apply the filter.


Then it was time to move the flare back to the camera.  You can either select the layer by CMD clicking on the layer icon and the copy and paste it or you can do as I did and simply drag the circle layer back to the camera image and drop it where you want it.  Once there, I pressed the V key and then moved the circle to the correct position on the lens.

Paste flare

The final step was to change the blend mode for the flare layer to Screen and then drop the opacity a just a little bit.

Final flare

I’m sure there are other ways of doing something like this and I would love to hear your ideas.  Until then, have a great weekend.


  1. Always enjoy your blog, Jeff!

    I see a lot of product photography like this, and the lens flare is a nice touch. I’m curious though, what was your setup for shooting the camera? I’ve been doing this kind of thing with an underlit translucent acrylic base / high-key setup (which I like), but which adds a bit of light in odd places ( ).

    Are you shooting in a light tent on a white sweep and then selecting / separating the product (e.g., camera) and pasting onto a new solid white background in Photoshop?

    Thanks again!


    • Jon,
      My shooting setup is pretty simple. I use studio strobes firing through white umbrellas, which are above and about 45 degree angles from the object. I have my object, a camera in this instance, sitting on a white tabletop and I have a white background about 3 feet behind. Once I shoot the object I take it into Photoshop and use the selection brush to quickly select the background and then fill it with white. Sometimes I will invert my selection and place the camera on its own layer above the background. This way I can change the background over and over and never have to worry about selections. One thing I like to do is make a subtle gradient for the background. It adds a nice touch to the image. I also have the option of changing the color of the background, which I have done on several occasion.

  2. I must be the only person that really doesn’t like this shot. I stands out as “fake” from miles away.
    I would rather take two shots, the first one as you did and a second with an actual flare on the lens (from a flash or light source, sun works too) and then in PS just blend the layers so only the lens flare comes thru…

    Peace guys


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    Adding a Little Flare in Photoshop

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