A lens flare is the streak or streaks of light that appear across your frame when light enters the lens. It can look really interesting, or it can look really bad. Today on The Slanted Lens, you’ll learn how to make them look good.
Working with Lens Flare
There are a million ways to add lens flare after the fact in Photoshop. But in today’s lesson, we’re going to talk about adding lens flare in camera, out on location. Using flare purposefully is a creative call, and can look very interesting. So let’s take a look at how to go about accomplishing that.
Remove Your Hood
The first step in creating interesting lens flare? Remove your lens hood! A lens hood is mean to keep light and flare away from the lens. So having one will defeat your purpose.
Create Your Own Flare
You can use an artificial light source, such as a candle, or flashlight, to shine light directly into the lens. This is an easy, low-tech way to add flare to your images. You can even use the flashlight on your phone! Create interest with this method by getting up close to the lens and shining the light through a bottle, or another object that will make shapes with the light.
In our lesson today, I also used a strobe behind Sommer, to mimic the look of the sun. I dialed my Baja B4 almost all the way down, and used it to create a rim and flare into the foreground. As that flare enters the lens, it desaturates the colors. That’s part of what gives flares a summery, bright feel. You can use this if you’re in a dark, high contrast light situation. A flare will open up a lot of the shadows and five you a different look.
Control the Amount of Light
You can use the person you’re photographing or taking video of to block the light, and let the light peek out behind them. In the video you’ll see that I used this method with my subject, Sommer, plus used a building to help cut the sun as well.
Another way to do this is with a tree. The sun was really bright, so I wanted to minimize it a bit. I used tree branches to cut down the light. The tree falls out of focus and I can use it to soften the light a bit.
Aperture Shapes Lens Flare
Your chosen aperture will control the shape of the lens flare. If your lens is opened up, the flare will look more like a blob, without any definition. As you stop down, the flare will become more defined. Here you can see that at F/16, the lens flare is star shaped, while at F/2.8 it’s just a general shape. It’s up to you to choose which fits your purposes in shooting.