Lens Flare

14 Oct


Sun flare - Cape Cod

Sun flare – Cape Cod

Generally speaking, today’s DSLR lenses are a bundle of glass and mechanisms whose purpose is to direct and control the light hitting a camera sensor.  Occasionally, some non-image-forming light sneaks through – little rouges that create artifacts, ghosts, veils and generally reduce the overall contrast of a portion of the image.  It’s a bit more complicated that that…and involves more diagrams…but for our purposes, lens flare = little rebellious light-ninjas.

These light ninjas are more inclined to come out and play in very bright light sources, such as while shooting into the sun.

Lens flare can be controlled a bit both through careful equipment choices and light source/composition awareness.  For the former, a lens hood goes a long way to help reduce the incidences of indirect light creating artifact (and to protect your lens, I’ve found out the hard way!).  Furthermore, reducing lens components creates fewer incidences of flare, because there is less opportunity for the light to go astray.  If you’re concerned about artifact, try using fewer filters, or be certain to use filters that include an anti-reflective coating.

Another technique to help reduce flare involves working smarter, not harder. 🙂  Having a little awareness of both where your light source is located and what elements within the frame can interrupt the light’s path from source to lens may save you a lot of post-production grief later.  For example, if you can position the sun at the edge of a building, tree, telephone pole (hey, it’s your artistic decision….), etc you can reduce the intensity and amount of artifacts within the final image.  Shifting composition so that the angle of the light source changes can also change how lens flare impacts your photo.  A slight shift may change the position of the flare…turning around completely so the sun is at your back will almost 100% reduce the incidences of flare. 😉

In the past, light-ninjas were to be avoided at all costs.  Times and trends change, though, and over-exposed images with lens flare is now a popular stylistic choice.  Just like anything else, knowing the how’s and why’s of flare makes it just one more tool in your artistic arsenal.  So do me a favor?  If you’ve never tried working with lens flare, give it a try…go make some photo-art!


14 Responses to “Lens Flare”

  1. livingforcreativity October 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Great shot. Love the light rays…composition, color saturation. Thanks for sharing.

    • seeingspotsphoto October 14, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. Colleen E Gunderson Photography October 15, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Very pretty photo; I like the flare. A recent photo of mine had flare in it, and I thought it added a little interest/fun.

    • seeingspotsphoto October 15, 2012 at 3:28 am #

      It definitely can add a little interest. I happen to be a fan of lens flare…not for every photo, of course, but when it fits, it can really add something. 🙂

  3. Regina (Gina) Arnold October 15, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    I love the way you did this. Very nice!

    • seeingspotsphoto October 15, 2012 at 3:29 am #

      Thank you! =) I’m happy this one turned out alright…we had to wade through some serious YUCK to get to the waterline. At least it wasn’t wasted effort. haha

  4. mwdurr October 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    Depending on what you’re after, lens flare can add a neat artistic effect. Most of the time though, I hate it. 🙂

    • seeingspotsphoto October 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      haha I appreciate your honesty. haha I definitely think that once you know how to control it, its a stylistic choice.

      • mwdurr October 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

        Oh, no, I meant it as thinking you had the sun in the frame to get flare ON PURPOSE. I think in this example it adds another interesting element to the photo.

      • seeingspotsphoto October 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

        Well thanks, I appreciate the feedback! =)

      • mwdurr October 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

        Sorry for the confusion! XD

      • seeingspotsphoto October 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm #


  5. plusfoursmax November 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    I do still think it so ironic that all modern CGI (especially space CGI) shows loads of lens flare which has to have been added specifically to give the impression that it was shot through old fashioned multi-element anti reflective coated optics. My one picky niggle would be on asking for a flat horizon!

  6. plusfoursmax November 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Sorry, that should have had an edit before posting. I do like the picture, with flare it gives it a real ‘hot and sunny’ feel to it, and if you look at the sun, you do get flare from your eyelashes anyway, I just like the horizon to be horizontal!

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