For as long as I can remember, my photography career has been characterized by a passionate love of Lens Flare. Truth be told I’ve found it to be one of the easiest and most artistic way to “dress up” an average photo and make it something quite special.
So what exactly is Lens Flare? In simple terms, Lens Flare is when the sunlight hits your lens at a certain angle and causes internal reflections to scatter through the lens; Lens Flare occurs when those reflections end up on your cameras sensor as you take a shot. Pretty cool that such a technical happening can make for a magical moment right?
Now like anything, it can be really easy to overdue lens flare – and you’ve probably seen that as well. I’ll tell you straight: Don’t make every other shot one with Lens flare – in some ways it’s a bit like salt: A little season will do a lot to dress up your offering. Generally, I only plan to take one single image with lens flare in every photoshoot.
Fortunately, it’s not too complicated to capture. Here are a few tips to get you started!
1. Shoot into the Sun: Of course, if the light is to hit your lens, you have to have the light source be positioned in front of you. Now, this is really cool because you can create Lens Flare in otherwise difficult lighting situations, like the high noon sun, or the harshest time of sunset.
2. Set up your shot as you would a silhouette first. It can be difficult to train yourself to think in terms of light angles, so simplify this as much as possible. Position your subject in front of your light source (for a scenario at high noon you’ll also have to kneel down to get the appropriate angle).
3. Use Manual Mode. Now your camera can only expose for lights or darks, which is why this won’t work in your cameras auto settings. So you need to think for you camera and manual allows you to do this. If you follow the cameras metering, you will be left with a silhouette as it tries to compensate for the intensity of light resulting from shooting into the light source. You need to overexpose so your subject is lit – even though it will over expose the background.
4. Shoot at an angle. The key to Lens Flare is using an angle. So when you want to create this shot, you make sure to be aware of your camera position to the sun. In the mornings or evening, you will have an easier time of shooting directly into the sun. But at mid day this changes and you’ll have to position yourself fairly low to the ground so that you can shoot into the sun.
5. Watch your focus. Your camera typically will focus on the object best lit in your frame. This could result in an object being clear other than your subject – and that’s just no good for a portrait. So challenge yourself and go to manual focus mode to get the perfect shot.
What are some of your favorite shots with Lens Flare? Share below in the comments how YOU were able to capture a special moment with this technique!