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 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 a Lens Flare On Purpose
To create a lens flare on purpose there are a few things that you have to do.
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).
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.
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.
If you happen to have some really super cheap UV or CPL filter throw them on. Cheap glass usually develops lens flares really quick.
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.
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. 🙂