During spring and summer you’re bound to end up with some of these sunflare backlight shots at the end of the day. Sometimes they’re just inevitable. But all is not lost, and you can actually use the sunflare to your advantage. Make it work for you. Enhance it, so you’ll get a real summery feel to your shot. You just have to slightly edit them and exaggerate the effect to make it seem like you didn’t mess up when shooting the photo, but more like you knew what you were doing! You were going for artistic! That’ll be your story and stick to it.
Here’s my SOOC. I thought it had potential so I didn’t toss it, but it definitely needs a little work.
Create a duplicate layer by clicking CTRL + J, and name it something like Copy.
I’m going for a curves tweak. Open an adjustment layer in the bottom of the layers palette (the yin/yang icon), and choose Curves from the menu.
Just grab the curve line with your mouse and drag it up in four different places, as I did.
That lit things up alright, but things look a little washed out now. I don’t like washed out, so let’s throw in some contrast.
Simply set the layer style to Soft Light and you get an instant contrast boost. Play with the opacity. I left mine at 100%.
But I want even more warmth—if we’re gonna fake it, let’s go all the way. Open yet another curves adjustment layer, like you did before. This time set the preset to Custom.
In order to up the golden tones that are part of a sunset, we have to cut the blue. Blue down, yellow up, that’s how it goes. So switch from RGB to blue channel.
And drag the blue line down until you have a golden warmth that works for your photo. Keep it realistic, though.
This technique gives you the best of both worlds. You keep it real, light it up, and bring out the details while you maintain that summery look and feel.
This can actually create gorgeous photos when the sun flare is combined with playing children or animals. Never be afraid to use sunlight in your images, or do something out of the ordinary when you have Photoshop.