Mystical Lighting

Lighting is one of the most difficult things for a photographer to learn. It can make or break a picture, and it takes a lifetime of experience or a lot of trial-and-error to be able to exploit great lighting. Auto FX has something that can assist the less experienced photographer, and that can be a powerful tool for the more experienced artist. Mystical lighting is a suite of Photoshop tools that takes some of the guesswork out of applying lighting after the photo-shoot. It can turn a bland image into a masterpiece if used correctly. But as with all Photoshop filters, using it well is an art in itself. There are two ways of using this suite: either to subtly enhance natural-looking images, or to create more fantasy images with unrealistic (or mystical) lighting techniques. Out of this world
The Ethereal filter adds light and tonal diffusion, which gives images a ghostly aura. This is ideal for fantasy images, but also works well on those wedding day images where the bride is literally glowing. It can be tasteful if used sparingly. The Fairy Dust filter lets the user sprinkle a picture with stars or snow of any other selected image. Again, this is ideal for the fantasy image, but it can also create realistic stars in the sky, or snowfall. Flare is self explanatory, adding a soft glow or star-filter effect. Light Caster offers soft, directional lighting for gel effects. In a similar way, Mottled Background textures plain backgrounds with canvas-style patterns, and can be set in any colour. This is a quick way to get that portrait studio effect. Radial Light Caster is similar to the Flare effect, but with extra streaming lights and rays. It makes for excellent background highlighting, directing attention to the main subject. Rainbow is another, more frivolous effect for creating a natural rainbow for when nature didn’t pose for the picture. This works in fantasy images, but also in any pictures of rain, fountains, or where there’s visible spray from the ocean. The Shader filter places shading in the same way that Light Caster places light. It can take flat images, and give more depth and direct people’s attention effectively when used correctly. Using Shader and Light Caster together can give excellent results with a little practice. Shadow Play casts realistic shadows over an image. This works best on a reasonably plain image – the effect is too subtle to show on a busy background. Surface light is a similar-but-opposite filter that throws light rather than shadows.


To the expert Photoshop user, many of these effects are already possible. What Mystical Lighting does is offer a shortcut to complex lighting effects. It doesn’t do all the work, however, and it will take time to get to grips with using these effects tastefully and effectively. But in the long-run, it will expand the number of options available to the user, either by offering new effects or by simplifying already possible but complex effects.

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