Posted by Rajib Mukherjee

Photography is such an exceptional vocation. Even optical and equipment errors can sometimes be considered beautiful! Let’s take the example of light leaks in images. Now, in the era of digital cameras it is rare that your images would be affected by light leaks unless there’s a hole in the camera somewhere. This is something that belongs firmly to the time of analog cameras and film rolls.

Light leaks happen because of a number of reasons. The fundamental reason why they happen is because the film roll was exposed to light other than by the controlled movement of the aperture and the shutter. This inadvertent exposure to light is what renders peculiar effects to images.

The process of artificially imparting similar light leak effects to modern digital images takes some work. The first thing is to visualize the image and plan the kind of effect that would look normal in the scheme of things. To demonstrate here I choose to simulate light leak towards the right upper corner of an image, going down tapering all the way to the right bottom corner.

This is the image that I will work on here.

This is not an image that I am particularly delighted with. By the way this is straight out of the camera. But it is something that has potential once I am done giving it an effect that I have in mind. It would be good enough for a second glance.

The effect that I would like to give is a slightly warmer tone as if the edge of first frame of the film got exposed when it was being loaded on to the camera. First task is to begin with the initial adjustments. The image was shot hand-held and it required the angle to be adjusted.

I did the initial Enable Profile Correction and Remove Chromatic Aberrations checks. Then I corrected the angle of the image by using the Crop Overlay tool and choosing the Straighten Tool under it. Now for the fun stuff.

Post these I adjusted the Exposure which I pulled down by about one-third of a stop. I boosted contrast by about +20. Highlights was reduced to negative 100 and Shadows was slightly boosted. I dragged Whites all the way to negative 100 and Blacks to negative 30. Clarity, Vibrance and Blacks were left unadjusted.

I also adjusted the Hue, Saturation and Luminance of the color tones in the image. Move straight to the HSL panel. I adjusted the Blue by dragging the Hue slider towards +40, and Saturation to +50.

I also adjusted the Yellow tones in the image by adjusting the Saturation Slider to +50 and the Luminance slider to +100.

Now I bring into play the main tool that will impart the light leak effect. Graduated Filter tool. I take the Graduated Filter tool, start from the top right corner of the Develop panel and drag it all the way to 2/5th of the image. I select a color (Red) and then increased the Exposure to +4. I reduced the Shadows to -50. I hit done and now the image looks as if it is a film light leak exposure.

On second thoughts I will increase the Clarity to about +35. I also adjust the Sharpness to a figure of 50 and do a bit of Noise Reduction of 35.

I found an interesting preset for this work which helped me to speed up future retouching works such as this. The name of the preset is 15 BW and it is a part of the D&S Premium BW Vol. II a pack consisting of 100 such really useful presets. This particular preset helps to create the light leak effect just by a single mouse click, freeing up time for you to fine tune the rest of the image as per your creativity.

Presets such this one are more generalized, in the sense that you can get a keep effect done perfectly in no time. Once that key effect is achieved any one can create a breathtaking image in almost no time.