The key to getting a beam of Light to look realistic is using multiple layers while creating it. A beam of light will be most intense in the center of the beam, so by making three different Curves layers that get smaller and smaller it gives the light a sense of Depth. It’s also important to apply a Gaussian Blur to the Layer Masks so the light doesn’t look unreasonably hard edged.
The second part to making the beam of Light believable is adding fog to the image. The only way a beam of Light can really be visible is if there are many small particles in the air for it to reflect off of. By using a combination of Adjustment Layers and Filter > Clouds, we can create a Texture around the Light that gives the illusion of a foggy day.
Photo by Vincent Tullo
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