Shine review: Add a touch of style to drab photos

There are some standalone apps that would work much better and being significantly more useful if they were in fact, a plug-in for Photoshop. Shine from Ohanaware falls neatly into this category by providing some really useful effects, but not enough ways of stacking and controlling them that could otherwise be done with Photoshop layers. But let’s rewind for a minute. If you’ve come across Digital Film Tools plug-in, Rays, you’ll know what to expect from Shine. It adds a central point from which rays stream out, picking up the colours around it. The clever part is that only light coloured areas are picked up and spread as part of the rays, the darker areas are actively blocked. That means it can create a pseudo-three dimensional aspect with the light appearing to come from behind the subject. The alternative is to place the source on the subject in which case it looks more like a telephoto zoom effect.

There are three main effects to use, the light rays, lens flare and gradient tint. The size of the source point can also be enlarged with a sun controller and there are options for contrast, glow and fall off for the overall image. With these you can either produce a shining, backlight effect, or use lots of colour and give your image a retro or 60s-style overlay. Where the app comes up short is that only one light source can be used at a time, there’s no layers system or any ability to mask and protect areas. Hence why it would have been better as a Photoshop plug-in because those functions would have been provided.

By limiting the ray effect and enhancing the colour distribution and contrast it’s easy to create a retro summer style image.

The light rays themselves can be adjusted for intensity, size and radius. Ticking the Colourize box also gives the image a nice, colourful overlay. There are three types of lens flare, from simple and multiple spots to a decent ring effect. The gradient tint is again, more colour toning, but uses two separate colours and mixed them together with control available over the direction it comes in at. It’s certainly easier to create some nice looking retro images than it is a realistic burst of rays as the rays don’t interact with the ground layer. It’s also a little too easy to completely overwhelm the image with the rays unless it is toned right down.

Finally, there’s an option to compare the coloured version and the original version, but doing so removes all the controls until you flip back, which is both pointless and wastes screen space. It’s even more annoying when you switch to full screen mode and admire the acres of empty canvas. Finished images can be saved out as JPEG, TIFF or PNG or sent by mail, uploaded to Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, and added to the Aperture and iPhoto libraries.

The light rays shine off and through the lighter materials, while avoiding the darker ones to create the ray effects.


Some very creative and colour effects are possible, especially if you want more retro-looking images rather than ones just with rays over the top. As a standalone app it comes up slightly short because of the lacking of layers and masking, but it is very cheap and it does produce some good results.

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