How to Make Rainbows Appear Using Photoshop

“The space around me went completely black.  I began to feel claustrophobic.  I can’t exaggerate this.  It went black.  I could no longer see the front of my Subaru from the driver’s seat. I didn’t know what to do. ” -- Charlie Bulla

Nature photographer Charlie Bulla, who’s here with us on our Photo Expedition in Istanbul, got caught in a dust storm a few weeks ago. Luckily, he managed to grab this photo before it overtook his car:

It’s a pretty ominous looking shot. I wonder what it would have looked like with a rainbow in it...

Yay! Now it’s happy and hopeful!

Ok, I admit that not every photo is improved with an added rainbow. But this trick can be pretty handy if you have a cloudy sky and want to add some drama.

Photoshop has a special gradient called “Russel’s Rainbow” (hidden in the “special effects” gradients), which lets you drag a rainbow across any image. You’ll want to do this on a new layer. At first, it’ll look way too bright. So you can soften it by changing the layer’s blending mode to “Screen” and then applying a pretty heavy Gaussian Blur.

It takes a little fudging to get it just right, but the end result can be pretty impressive!

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