How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect in Photoshop

Vista lighting effect is very popular, and many tutorials explaining how to recreate it can be found on the Internet. However, they had a point in common: Being relatively inaccessible for beginners with Photoshop. I therefore propose my own version of this tutorial, in order to create a striking effect, quickly and easily.


Step 1: Choosing the starting image

To begin, we’ll choose the image that will be the basis of our work: I have chosen here a picture of Blankenberge beach (Belgium), but you can choose almost any image. However, I advise you to choose luminous image, with many colors.
For exemple, a street or a city at night should make it particularly well, but I haven’t tried it yet.
How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect

Step 2: Adding some blur

Nothing hard here: We just have to add a very strong blur to the image. To do so, go to Filters » Blur » Gaussian Blur. As I said before, the blur must be particularly strong. I have given a value of 80.
How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect

Step 3: Color balance

Although our now blurry image gives us a glimpse of what we want to do, the effect we’re going to create looks even better with particularly vivid colors.
Go to Layer » New Adjustment Layer » Color balance. Click ok when the confirmation popup appears.
Now you’ll see a dialog box containing 3 sliders: Now, you have to experiment with colors values, according to your wishes.
How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect

Step 4: Tracing the first line

Here is certainly the most delicate step of this tutorial, even if it is not so complicated that it seems.
We’re going to draw the first line. To do so, create a new layer, choose the Elipse selection from the toolbar, and select a large part of the image, so that our curve of a pass across the image.
Then go to the menu Select » Modify » Border. I gave the value of 10, but a value of 5 or 20 may looks good also, depending on the thickness of the desired curve.
How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect

Step 5: Adding effects to the line

Then, just fill out the selection with white, using the paint pot tool, then Deselect any layer (Cmd + D).
Right-click on the curve layer, then choose Blending options, and add some Outer glow.
The following screenshot shows the settings that I applied. But one more time, feel free to experiment 🙂
How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect

Step 6: Duplicating the first curve

Now that our curve looks good, we only have to duplicate its layer. Once done, press Cmd + T to transform the duplicated layer. Change its size, position, his inclination…
Repeat this step as many times as you want. The result should look like this:
How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect

Additional Step: Changing the background

If you’re not satisfied with the result, you can always change the substance of your image. Simply double-click on the Layer Adjustment to re-adjust the color balance.
Similarly, as shown in the picture below, nothing prevents you from importing a new background, or create one from scratch:
How to: Recreate Vista lighting effect

Inspired by tutorial9.