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I have the following image which was shot during golden hour. Unfortunately, the clouds did not co-operate so the lighting ended up looking very bland.

Are there filters out there that can simulate sun rays hitting part of the tree? Something like this would be useful.

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Note: I have PS, LR, Luminar AI

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    "following image"? you mean you want to edit the image which has green leaves and blue sky (i.e., 1st image)? if yes can you please edit the details so it becomes clear. – Vikas Jun 22 at 8:19
  • also, you want to use it for professional purpose (for example printing or as home page of a website or sharing on your photography portfolio) or for just normal use/share? – Vikas Jun 22 at 8:26
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Since you also have Lightroom, just going to add an answer for that software too.

To make it pop and bring in the warmth of the sunlight, I did some tweaks to white balance (Temp), exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, white and black, clarity, dehaze, and vibrance. One can easily be tempted to go too far here, and perhaps I did, so these could be dialed down a bit for more realism.

Obviously, the results will be even better if you have the original RAW from the camera. Only having access to a jpg is less than ideal.

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Nice photo BTW!

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If you want a generic push-button, instant-gratification enhancer, there are quite a few about these days, & Luminar [which you already have] is amongst the best of them. Dial in 'sunset' or 'golden hour' & see what you find.

This was a one-button-press in Luminar. You can fine tune any aspect of this type of edit until you're happy.

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You can be very subtle with this type of app, but of course there is always the temptation to go completely overboard.
You could throw in a new sun, with user-definable parameters… [sun here is hard left, peeking through the gap in the rocks]

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Usually the difficulty with this type of editor is keeping your image somewhere within the realms of reality.
You really can do some quite excessive edits in this type of thing, like replace the sky entirely…

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You just have to know when to stop ;)

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The sunset colorizes the sunny side of all parts of the trees and other things it meets. Converting a photo to have realistic sunset light is unfortunately very difficult. No automatic filter can decide which parts of the image should be colorized - the image has no 3D information to decide the lit surfaces and shadows. The direction of the sun is not enough. You must be able to select the areas in the image which should be recolored.

In theory one can cheat by colorizing all in the sunny areas and let the shadows be what they happen to be, no matter the light direction can be radically off. That's used in my example, too.

Another problem is the sky. Sunset sky is different than the sky in the middle of the day. It probably could be copied from somewhere. Or one could create it with color and contrast adjustments or even paint it. But making a plausible selection or mask to change the sky is difficult, even impossible if the trees and bushes have much only few pixel wide details where the sky can be seen through.

An example

At first in the bottom layer the original has got general contrast boost with curves + red is boosted even more. The idea is to make the sunset glow on the tree tops maximally bright:

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There's an adjustment layer, because the effect is inserted with no reference. Adjustment layer can be readjusted when there's more.

That, of course cannot be global. A new copy of the original is inserted. It's made darker than the original, masked off in the middle and at the edges it's partially transparent because the reddish light must affect also to the parts with less direct sunlight:

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The sky fades the red glow - it's too bright. A new sky is made with the Render > Clouds filter. It fades to black downwards - the watcher is assumed to look about eastwards where the sky is darkest in the evening.

The blue is quite dark, but clouds reflect some sunlight and make the not directly lit bushes still to have some color:

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The mask of the sky is made by increasing the contrast. The sky must be masked, not the trees nor bushes. The fine details of them do not stand any shaving at the edges due the low resolution image.

The darkened sky looks offensive. In the next version it's opacity is reduced to 60% as a compromise:

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  • This kinda looks like someone shining a spotlight on the tree at dusk.. no correlation to natural sunlight. – Scott Jun 23 at 9:35
  • I decided there's only small area which gets direct (reddish) sunlight. Everything else is in a dark shadow behind high and dense obstacles. That was my decision and thanks for clearly and humbly admitting that I also succeeded to make it visible. – user287001 Jun 23 at 10:09
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I would use somewhat similar adjustment layers which other answers have covered, but I'm doing many things "manually" for my approach.


First, turn on Quick Mask Mode and paint it the areas where you feel sunlight is more bright/directly falling. Use fully opaque for more brighter areas and less opaque for less brighter areas. Especially trees and rocks. Just like this:

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Then add Exposure adjustment layer using the mask you just created. And shift Gamma Correction to 0.7 maybe.

Add Levels layer to further make those areas more bright. You can copy same mask again.

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I don't know why but I feel the reference image you've given (with red/yellow sunlight falling on trees) is actually sunrise. So I have tried to make sky less blue and more red/yellow because often sky is colorful at the time of sunset.

Use Selective Color to lessen the blue color in sky. Use warm Photo Filter for making sky and other colors yellow/red.

Use a circle with radial gradient to make the left side of the photo a bit bright so it looks like sun is on that side. Mask unnecessary brightness since we don't need it on rocks. We just need it on sky and a bit tree leaves.

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Do final adjustments overall, you can make leaves a bit more green and increase brightness if you think so. Note that I've applied some of the adjustment layers more than once and masked them wherever needed.

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Slightly warmer look:

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