My editing style in Photoshop is called Non-Destructive. What that means is that we apply effects to the image without actually altering the original image itself. Yes, of course, I do still use the Healing Brush and Liquify, which do alter the base image, but more likely than not I will work with Adjustment layers, stacked on top of my original and not alter the base image in any way.
We are not going to create a Lens Flare action because I generally need to move the light source to match the scene every time I use the Lens Flare effect. This makes it impractical to use on different images with different light source directions.
The base of the Lens Flare effect is built upon the Dodge & Burn process that I also use, so we’ll just start there. When you’re using the Dodge and Burn tool, we do not want to work on image directly. So we will create a new layer and fill that layer with 50% gray. Name the layer Dodge & Burn, set the layer style mode to Soft Light and stop recording the action at this point. Now when we are required to use Dodge and Burn tools, we can work on this new 50% gray layer fill layer in a nondestructive way.
That’s the key feature in Photoshop. It gives you the ability to modify your images in a nondestructive way, while also preserving the integrity of the original file. So go ahead and create the Dodge and burn action if you wish.
Now let’s create a lens flare. We’ll start by running the Dodge & Burn action, if you did not record a Dodge & Burn action, we’ll start from scratch. Create a new layer, Edit> Fill> 50% gray. Next go to Filter> Render> Lens Flare>. Select 50mm – 300mm, drag the light source around with your mouse to mimic the light source within your scene and played with the Brightness, slider until you’re happy. Somewhere between 100 and 135 are usually sufficient. Next duplicate the background image, and use the same filter effects without making any adjustments.
Set the layer mode on the “lens flare” layer to Hard Light and leave the layer mode on the duped layer set on Normal. Play with the layer modes and layer opacity until you’re happy.
Next we’ll create a new layer and go to Image> Adjustment> Photo Filters and select a warm effect. Leave the layer mode at Normal and play with the Opacity until your happy with the effects.