Plugins for Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom, PSP & others


DFT Rays

by Kay Michael Kuhnlein


Review Date: May 17, 2012 Recommend? yes |  Rating: 9 



Imagine you have just taken your masterpiece photo, processed it for hours with Photoshop and afterwards you show it to a normal person without special knowledge. Feedback: The spectator says a moderate "nice" or "fine", you can hardly expect more.

If you would like to hear a "this looks really fantastic", then show a photo with well visible beams of light to people. This does always work, that is why I was looking for a suitable plugin, which is able to produce such effects.


DFT Rays v 1.0

I was able to find such a plugin with Digital Film Tools, who offer a corresponding plugin called Rays. That is why I take the time and let you take part in my "first steps" and experiences.

Installation under Windows 8 works without any problems, afterwards the plugin is displayed in Photoshop`s Filter Menu.

Whoever is not too keen on reading instructions, takes the risk of using an unsuitable sample image at the first launch of the plugin. This results only in frustration and a missing wow-effect.

Thus it is recommendable to deal somewhat with the theory first and only start hereafter. Rays creates a new light source, the existing image details are regarded when rendering. That is why a fully highlighted portrait photo is rather not suitable, better use photos on which the light source is interrupted by divided windows or trees in the forest etc. Only this way the fascinating distributed beams of light are possible.


The program surface

Rays presents itself after restoring the last assigned setting. This may distract a bit in the first moment, but due to a reset button you will quickly get used to it.

All controls are properly arranged

The sliders for different settings are divided into four groups. You will find them on the right hand side of the program surface. In the canter of the photos you can see a white dot, for which I will give you more information shortly - furthermore with this plugin the buttons for Zoom out and Zoom in are of special meaning, which you will also see now.

Should you prefer an overview of the original and effect-rendered image, it is feasible.


Let it shine

Now we can tackle a practical exercise. Before I will give you a hint with regard to the sample photo. Here the incidence of light and the shadows through the windows are already visible.

The expert, or better to say photo enthusiast, would consider the new beams of light and choose an identical perspective. But it also works differently.

Forum Shops in Caesar´s Palace, Las Vegas - photographer: Silvia Kuhnlein

When working with a plugin, I would - apart from rare exceptions - make a copy of the background layer in order to keep the original, but also to add the effects of other plugins.

In the first screenshot you can see a white circle in the middle of the image for determining the beam center - in most cases it is located outside the image. Now you also know why the Zoom out button is so very important. Alternatively you can use the mouse wheel or the O key for Zoom out and the I key for Zoom in.

Setting the beam center with the small white circle

After sufficiently reducing the view, I ignored the already existing incidence of light in the original image. Moreover, while keeping pressed down the mouse button I moved the white circle for the beam center upwards. This function lets you act completely free - the dot and thus the beam perspective can be moved optionally.

Afterwards the parameters were changed until the result corresponded to my ideas. An exact listing of the single settings would make little sense, because your own photo certainly requires different values.

One possible result with DFT Rays

Because I do like experimenting with plugins, I worked on a new layer and achieved the final result with PhotoWiz ContrastMaster.

DFT Rays & PhotoWiz ContrastMaster

Beams of light with DFT Rays

A popular and suitable theme is a forest scenery, where you let the "new light" shine through the trunks and branches, I assure you that DFT Rays will help you with that.

I could show you an array of further examples where the plugin makes your work considerably easier and leads to convincing results. But I hope you understand that this is a review and no comprehensive tutorial.

For more information, please go to

I was not able to detect any negative side-effects when working with DFT Rays, on the contrary I always reached the target by intuitive controlling and some "playing" with the parameters.

Kay Michael Kuhnlein


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