How You Shot It is a series where you show us how you shot an image. Many who use our presets love to share their special processing recipes. You can join the SLR Lounge Textures and Presets group on Facebook and share your favorite images and recipes as well!

Today’s post is from Jon Ellis, who showed us a while back how he shot this picture on London Bridge. Check out his work on 500px.

Inspiration comes to us in many forms; comedy, tragedy, chance, or retina damage. This is a lesson of two halves.

Sun Warp

I was walking around a park, purposefully at a time when I knew the sun was starting to set. I was hoping to get shots of long shadows from the tall trees surrounding me. Finding the local fauna to be a disappointment (they thought of me likewise), I continued towards a river where two very old stone bridges are located. The area had been fenced off with sharp pointy metal which prevented me to getting closer, but it did draw my attention to the sun which by now was low in the sky.

I stared at the sun, the solar rays slowly etching themselves into my retina. The shot I wanted was right in front of me, the sun behind the tree across the river from me, while two others to the left and right formed a frame. I knew the type of shot this would result in, a distorted warp effect, as if the sun was bending the elements in front of me. I had to wait a while for my vision to clear before I could take the photo though.

Gear List

The Process


The original shot was very dark, but I could see the beginnings of the final effect, both trees left and right seem to be bending away from the light.

  • Lens correction added for the Sigma 10-20mm.
  • Remove Chromatic Aberration
  • Preset: 22c. Neutral Wash – Crimson
  • Saturation Shift: Yellow – 27, Blue +47
  • Preset: 06. Brighten
  • Preset: 05. Neutral 0.0
  • Clarity +5
  • White Balance Temp +29
  • Shadows +76

Spot removal was needed on the right hand tree and the left hand bridge to remove some strong lens flares. I really should use the lens hood!

Drop kicking this into Photoshop, I first added the Oil Painting filter, Stylization and Cleanliness were set to 10 and the remaining options were reduced to minimal. I then created three copies and named them Liquefy, Warp and Swirl.

For each named layer I added following filters:

  • Liquefy – Bloat, brush size 9000/Opacity 100%.
  • Warp – Radial Blur Zoom 10/Opacity 24%.
  • Swirl – Radial Spin 20/Opacity 42%.

This created the Warp effect I was after.


The light needed to be brighter though and I wanted to add more details to the warping effect.

  • Stripes layer: Render – Fibers. Radial Blur – Zoom 10, Swirl 20, Opacity 28%/Divided.
  • Lines layer: Noise – Add Noise, 160%, Gaussian, Monochromatic, Radial Blur – Zoom 50. Opacity 100/Overlay.
  • Flare Layer: Render – Lens Flare angled downwards. Opacity 100%.
  • Levels Layer: Highlight Input Level pulled down to 217.
  • Detail Layer: 05-SLRLounge-blends-paper-textures-0002.jpg, Radial Blur – Zoom 10, Swirl 20, Opacity 20%/Luminosity.


From a great distance I threw this back into Lightroom and I added the final settings:

  • Preset: 24d. Vintage Punch – Warm Cross
  • Clarity +60
  • Preset: 26. Detail Boost – Heavy
  • Preset: 42. Darken – Medium (-15, -30)

After which I sat back and breathed out.



I am glad that the image came out near to how I imagined it would way back when I had a healthy retina. Staring at the sun can damage your eyesight; it could also damage the sensor in your camera. For me, this could have been another expensive photograph!

About the “How to Shoot It” Series

This educational series highlights amazing images from our writers as well as our community. The goal is to not only feature inspirational work but to provide valuable education for our photography community. If you would like to submit your work, please click here for more info on writing for SLR Lounge.