How To Use Lens Flare As Look

How To Use Lens Flare As Look

Many Videos and Photoblog articles are about getting rid of the lens flare in your camera and some videos and articles are about adding lens flare in photoshop to archive a certain look… So what I will do in this post is show you how to use lens flare as a look and create it on purpose, but not in Photoshop. In the real world with real light and real flare. Ready?

Ok, let’s get started! 🙂

What Is a Lens Flare And How Does It Work?

Lens flare is actually super easy to understand. It basically is light that hits the lens from the side in a (usually unwanted) angle and bounces uncontrolled around in it until it hits the sensor. It can look different depending on the angle that the light comes from as well as what lens you are using or how far you are zoomed in. Apart from the fact that you have a lens flare in your picture it also decreases the contrast and saturation around it and brings all the darks in the picture up quite a bit. Of course, you could fix that in photoshop or Lightroom later, but it is good to keep that in the back of your head.


how to use lens flare

How To Avoid Lens Flare

A good way to start is a lens hood (picture below) Put it on your lens and it will block all the light that comes in from the side which could create the lens flare. If you could just use one of your hands to keep the side light away from the lens like I do. That also works just fine unless you use an 800mm lens… Could become a problem there.

how to create lens flare

How To Create a Lens Flare On Purpose

To create a lens flare on purpose there are a few things that you have to do.

Lens Hood

Obviously, you have to take that off. 😉

Try To Look At The Suns Direction

Ok, now seriously. You have to shoot into the sun… NOT directly. NEVER do that unless you want to be blinded or your camera sensor damaged. Just shoot in the raw direction of the sun. Try to keep it near the edge of your frame, so the sun can hit the lens at a sharp angle.  The sun doesn’t even need to be in the picture (but it can be).

how to use lens flare


Wear real UV protecting sunglasses while doing that. I know it sounds annoying, but you have to look cool while taking pictures. No seriously, you will look into the sun at some point of the shoot. Direct sun can and will really damage your eyesight. So be super careful with that.

how to use lens flare

Rather Zoom Than Prime

Use zoom lenses rather than prime lenses. Because zooms have more variable glasses in it where the lens flare could develop. Of course, you can get a lens flare also on a prime lens, but zoom lenses are easier for that.

how to use lens flare


Use Filters

If you happen to have some really super cheap UV or CPL filter throw them on. Cheap glass usually develops lens flares really quick.

 how to create lens flare

Zoom And Aperture

Play a little bit with the zoom and aperture to change the flare and find out which one you like the best. A wide aperture will give you a soft and nice looking lens flare, while a narrow aperture will give you a sharper and more detailed lens flare.

If It Still Doesn’t Work

If you still can’t get a lens flare have a look at your lens hood to get a better understanding of where it would block the light when it sits on your lens. You want to have the sun or light source in exactly that area.

Best Time To Get Lens Flared

The best time to get a natural lens flare in your pictures is around the golden hours, early in the morning or in the evening. For the obvious reason that the sun is in a better position to be included in your picture.

how to use lens flare

Artificial Lens Flare

Most people only know lens flare from the sun and if they use it they also almost only use the sun. There is nothing wrong with that. But what if you don’t have enough sun? Because of the weather, high buildings or just because the sun is in the wrong position. Just use a flashlight, phone or even a candle and hold it right beside your lens to create one.  It works just as fine. If you want to be super creative you can even use a glass such as a bottle and shine the light on it. It will modify the lens flare and make it more interesting. At least in my opinion. 😉

How To Use Lens Flare In a Picture

In my opinion, there are two kinds of lens flare good ones and bad ones. A good lens flare is strong and easy to see, so the viewer will spot it as part of the picture or look or however you want to call it.

What Is A Bad Lens Flare

A bad lens flare is only slightly visible and will be more distracting in the picture than anything else. Because it isn’t strong enough to really change anything about the picture. It appears more slightly like dirt on the lens. But of course like always in photography this is just an opinion and you can listen to it or don’t. 🙂

Where Does Lens Flare Work?

Honestly, that is totally up to you. I like to use it in my portraits and as well as in landscapes or macro shots. I think the only thing that you need to know is that a lens flare always makes a scene more cinematic than moody.

That’s already it with my post on how to use lens flare as a look. I hope you understood everything I explained and if you didn’t let me know in the comments. Also, let me know if you have any opinions or other questions on my post. 🙂


Cheers Aaron.


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6 thoughts on “How To Use Lens Flare As Look

  1. Kierra

    I enjoyed your insight on how to take good pictures. I learned about camera lens.Adjusting them to get the photo you want. Good & Bad Lens, How To Avoid The Flare & How To Work With The Sun. I Learned How To Use Natural Light When Working The Camera. Also, When To Zoom In.

    1. Aaron

      Hey Kierra, I’m glad that I was able to tech you something new 🙂 I hope you will use your new knowledge to take some new cool picture. 🙂

  2. John

    This article is nothing but informative to me.. I have little knowledge in lens, photography and the likes. Reading through has just open my mind to new things from shooting into the sun, I mean not directly to using cheap lens and wearing UV glasses. Following the instructions and trying it out wouldn’t be a bad idea after all

    1. Aaron

      Hey John, I’m glad to hear that you learned a few new things. Now put it to practice. 🙂

  3. J&HTowsley;

    I took photography classes in high school. I have always liked how lens flares looked in portraits (though that’s not what we called them). Unfortunately my teacher didn’t see it the same way. I am glad to see lens flares are more popular now. Thank you for the great information.

    1. Aaron

      Hey J&H, thank you for the nice feedback. 🙂 Your photography teacher must have been a real pain. In my and most other photographers opinion there is nothing right or wrong in photography. There are just things that you like and things you don’t as well as the rule of thirds it is a rule and rules are meant to be broken. What I think matters at the end of the day that you like your pictures and not what other people think would be right. Otherways everybody would take the same pictures 🙂 which would be super boring 😀 However, I wish you all the best and take the pictures you love 😀

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