Light leaks occur where light is able to seep, or “leak” in, causing the film to over-expose. Some people consider these light leaks to be artistic and therefore leave the light leaks untouched. This once happened to me, where the side of the first frame was exposed to light and caused a light leak on the photograph. I loved the final effect.
The most common light leak areas are located at the corners of the front of the camera, the seam between the back and the body of the camera, and the exposure number window on the back of the camera. These light leaks can be retouched with Velcro, duct tape or electrical tape.
However, light leaks in photography are becoming more and more popular. In fact, some people simulate this effect during the editing process to create that retro vintage look. Light leaks cannot be purposely created within the camera, it is an accidental effect but the Lomo Holga large format camera has the tendency of leaking light.
How to create your own light leak in Photoshop
Open a new image and lock the layer. Pick a saturated red colour. Select the gradient tool and choose the colour to transparent option. Create a new layer and name it light leak one. In this layer, drag the gradient tool from a corner or side to the subject in the photo. Change the layer Blend Mode to Lighten.
Create a new layer and name it light leak two. Within this layer you’ll go through a similar process. Choose a saturated yellowish orange colour. Use the same gradient option. Drag the gradient from the same area across the photo, covering a smaller area than with the red colour. Change the layer Blending Mode to Linear Doge.
Create one more layer. Name it light leak three. Change the colour to white to build the final layer of the light leak. Use the gradient tool with yet again the same option, covering a very little area. A transition from red to yellow to white is created.
The image can be balanced out with another red light leak on the opposite side of the photo.
You can also download some Lomo Light Leaks for free and try them out on your photographs by dragging the light leak jpg into your Photoshop file, changing the layer Blending Mode to Screen and play around with the transparency and scale of the layer.
Nadia Jv Vuuren
Examples of light leaks
Videos on how to create your own light leaks in Photoshop