New Lightroom Plug-in (Rays) From Digital Film Tools

Hey everyone. Digital Film Tools released a new Lightroom (and Photoshop) plug-in called Rays. It’s actually pretty cool. You can create realistic light rays that look like they’re coming through a window or clouds. You can find out more at their website here. I guess my question to you is, would you use something like this? Lightroom being a tool for photographers, what’s your feelings about artificially adding light? Artificially adding anything is more of a designer/compositor kind of thing, or some one creating movie posters or very specialized images. Anyone on the purist side of the fence would absolutely say no. But what about you? Me, I think it’s kinda cool. I have some photos of churches 😉 that I think it would work great for. Thanks?



  1. phil 2 May, 2011 at 11:42 Reply

    tempted to have a crack at doing this myself. Im thinking that you could copy the image into a new layer and use the blending mode to remove anything but the highlights. then apply a motion blur (radial) – you might need to expand the canvas to create a vanishing point outside the image. then dial in the layer opacity, and maybe use a little erasing or masking to fade the rays here and there and make them look realistic. Sounds simple but I bet its hard to do.

  2. Tom Calderwood 20 April, 2011 at 14:47 Reply

    Interesting conversation. For me, this is a *very* cool product (and yeah, it is priced too high). I’ve shot inside of churches and mausoleums, and I would have died to have enough junk in the air to catch some rays. I think that’s where this product would work best – when folks would say “Wow! Nice shot!” vs. “Wow! How’d’ya do them rays?”

    This plug in would work best for those shots where you would have looked for, or wanted, rays to begin with. It definately wouldn’t work with every shot out there.

    But here’s the twist – I showed an over-ray’d picture to some family members and immediately got the Wow! response, with (imho) properly done rays I got downgraded to simply ‘nice…’ (no wow) response. I guess it’s kind of like overdone HDR. Personally, I don’t like it. But other folks do – and I like pleasing my clients. I guess a better question is “Is it art, or is it an Elvis on velvet?”

  3. Bubba 14 April, 2011 at 15:18 Reply

    Well Lightroom has now entered the cheese zone! When photographic church, I get this effect in camera by throwing my home made dirt into the air. For chunky god rays, I take vacuum cleaner crap and cast it to the heavens. Yes, yes, I do.
    – Bubba

  4. Monte 14 April, 2011 at 10:44 Reply

    With true photojournalism aside:

    It is interesting that we can use HDR, liquify, clone stamp, healing brush, transform, etc., but heaven forbid that we add sun rays and it all becomes a matter of ethics and morality. Really?

    As for the plug-in, I think it is vastly overpriced. Dave Cross gives a great tutorial about creating sun rays in PS, if you are a NAPP member.

  5. Trevor Johnston 14 April, 2011 at 09:00 Reply

    I see something like this plug-in the same way most people now view added lens flares. Over-used, easily over-done and seldom done properly. It won’t be added to my toolbox, especially at $50.

  6. Glyn Dewis 14 April, 2011 at 08:33 Reply

    Hi Matt.

    Personally speaking I don’t really subscribe to the “I’m a purist so I won’t add anything artificial” mindset. Of course I very much believe in getting the best ‘out of camera’ image that I can but when it comes to post production I’ll add/remove whatever I feel complements the image.

    This new plug in looks great. Ill add light rays like this using the technique you demonstrated on Photoshop User TV some episodes back but if this plug in works as good as it seems then this could go some way to reducing editing time and that I”m always interested in. Off subject slightly but do you know if it’s available as a Photoshop Plug In too?


  7. Josh 14 April, 2011 at 08:03 Reply

    Interesting looking tool – had a quick play with it and it seems very image specific. Works on some – turns others to garbage. My immediate reaction to it was that I didn’t like it and after playing with it for an hour or so I still don’t like it. Although, I can see the potential. For me it crosses my own ethical boundaries of what I consider acceptable manipulation of a digital file whilst maintaining the integrity of the image. for others, it may be just fine.

    One other comment – Without the ability to add a mask to exclude certain areas of the photograph its use is heavily curtailed. I will watch with interest for updates to it.

  8. Michael Preston 14 April, 2011 at 07:48 Reply

    Seems this would be a very useful tool, but I think it’s a bit expensive for what it does. Methinks I’ll create my own in PS until the price comes down.

  9. Mike Bright 14 April, 2011 at 06:53 Reply

    Wow nice plugin
    But $50.00 thats overpriced }:o(
    And I agree with John Swarce you must have a cool lightroom preset for this you can share with us ?
    Mike Bright.

  10. Marc Murphy 13 April, 2011 at 20:42 Reply

    Sounds potentially interesting and useful. And with the switch from film to digital, we tend to alter images to a pretty large degree nowdays. This is just another tool. Besides, simply dodging and/or burning a photo in the digital or conventional darkroom “changes the lighting”. The final image should stand on it’s own, not really how we got there.

    Just one man’s opinion.

  11. John Swarce 13 April, 2011 at 20:08 Reply

    Hoo boy, I don’t know about this one. I think that light rays should already be in the shot, and it’s ok to enhance them. I don’t think they should be added after the fact. Just how I feel.

    Now if you came out with your own preset for this, Matt, I might change my mind. Especially since all of your presets come with a nice price! 8)


    • Matt Kloskowski 14 April, 2011 at 08:43 Reply

      Hmmmm. We can make Lightroom do a lot John but this may be a tall order. I’d personally never even come close to spending the time it would take to try this in LR with the adjustment brush. If I did this sort of thing on a few photos a year, it’d be the fastest $50 I spent. 🙂

  12. Bob 13 April, 2011 at 16:54 Reply

    I’ve been shooting a lot of churches and cathedrals lately. I like this tool when used carefully to create a natural looking scene by adding light. It’s easily overdone however. But then again, it might be used creatively that way too. So far, I like what I see. In the lightroom version it needs an ‘erase’ function to remove the light rays from some areas.

    Thanks for noting this app!

  13. TDSutter 13 April, 2011 at 16:37 Reply

    What’s the difference between adding non-existent rays of light and adding an enlarged moon to a night-scape?
    Photography serves two purposes: 1) Journalism/History and 2) Art. The two are very, very different. And the rules for each are different. Personally, my primary use of photography is Art. Therefore, if I can enhance a photo by adding an enlarged moon over a water scene at night, I will. If I can enhance a photo by adding rays of light appearing to come through storm clouds and shining on a country church, I will. If I can enhance a photo using HDR, I will.

  14. Dennis Zito 13 April, 2011 at 16:08 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Hey thanks for the heads up on this plug-in! I watched the video demonstration and it looks like it good be useful to me. I have some shots of clouds with the sun trying to break through (GOD ray), but I’ve never been able to get the rays to look like I saw them. I think this plug-in would really help in that case. Also, shot where the sun is coming through the trees and etc. I don’t have a problem with Rays as long as it’s used on something that already has a ray defined. Just adding a Ray doesn’t work for me.



  15. Peter 13 April, 2011 at 13:08 Reply

    Well, at times I really do wonder how some of these plugin developers calculate their prices? This one seems to follow the rule, that the more seldom a plugin is needed and the more basic its functionality is, the more valuable the pricing has to be?

    Considering that iPhotro costs 12,- $ and Aperture is 63 $ in the app store, this seems too little bang for the bucks.
    My 2 cents…

  16. will Hastings 13 April, 2011 at 12:38 Reply

    I’ll have to give this a try. Obviously if you are a journalist this kind of thing is a no no. But I don’t see how adding artificial light in post is all that different than adding artificial light on location.

    • Matt Kloskowski 14 April, 2011 at 08:40 Reply

      Good point. It brings up the question of when does a photo become a photo. Basically, when is the “art” created. Is it just when you click the shutter or can it also be when you press Save in Photoshop? Years ago, it was when the shutter was pressed. Today, it’s obviously much different.

  17. Don Stratton 13 April, 2011 at 11:44 Reply

    It is an interesting novelty tool, but one I would not even consider paying $50 for. $20 and I might not even have to think about it too hard, but $50 is out of the question for a tool I will virtually never use. YMMV.

  18. Nikhil Ramkarran 13 April, 2011 at 10:25 Reply

    These things are not for me (I speak only for myself) but when you are creating art I am firmly of the opinion that anything goes. Just so long as you don’t represent it as being true to the original.

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