How to Create Highlights from the Sun using Photoshop

Have you ever wanted to create directional lighting in a Portrait, or Composited an image that needed some extra Photoshop help in the highlights?

Today, I’m going to show you how I easily Create Highlights from the Sun using Photoshop.

Because of my style of Composite Photography, and the way I light subjects during the actual Photography, it was crucial for me to find a way to easily and quickly create highlights within Photoshop.

Without them, FLATNESS.

So, put on your sunglasses, cuz we’re going to create some highlights.

Convincing Composite Photography

You might be thinking, “Why would I need to create highlights, when I can just create them with lighting?”

Good question, and I’ve got an answer.

At least for the type of Composite Photography I do.

For simple Composites utilizing only a few images (2-6ish), it’s much easier to rely on artificial lighting to create your desired effects.

With many images (sometimes into the 50’s and 60’s), it’s virtually impossible to obtain the same lighting effect throughout all the elements of a Composite, and do it in a timely manor.

From start to finish, most of my Composited Portraits must be completed within two to four weeks.

For me, I light everything with flat lighting, so I can have the control over the shadows and highlights, which in the end, give my Portraits a nice depth most lose in traditional lighting and editing.

Check out my Signature Family Portraits gallery to see more samples of my work.

Creating Highlights using Photoshop

To be a Composite Photographer, I believe you have to be the most well rounded Photographer of all other types of Photography.

Think about it…

For what I do, I have to be technically good at Portrait Photography, Automotive Photography, Nature Photography, Architecture Photography, Landscape Photography, Product Photography, and many others I’m sure.

I also have to have a good understanding of Physics, Perspective, Geometry, Shadows, Light, and many other things I’m sure I can’t think of right now.

All that, and still be able to capture the Personalities of individuals in a visually pleasing Composition.

Wow!!! Tell me another type of Photography that has to do all that?

Ok, highlights are all about understanding light, lighting direction, colors, and tones.

The best way to understand light and highlights, is to simply study the world around you.

screen shot of dallas composite photographer, jason ulsrud, creating highlights using photoshop

To get a better understanding of how to best create Highlights using Photoshop, watch the video, but here’s a checklist of what you’ll be doing.

  • Select your Brush Tool
  • Choose the color #867b00
  • Opacity and Flow are at 100%
  • Select a blend mode of Color Dodge
  • Paint your Highlights
  • Reduce layer Opacity to a believable level for your brightest Highlights
  • Using the Erase Tool, erase away unwanted Highlighting

How’s that for a quick and easy Highlight?

That’s a Wrap

Depending on your light source, not having highlights will cause your Composite to look flat and unbelievable.

Trust me, there are already a lot of “unbelievable” looking Composites out there, and I don’t want you to add to them.

Go, give this a whack, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to Contact Me to ask.

In the comments below, tell me what you think about how Composite Photographers have to be the BEST Photographers.

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