Photographic Tip of the Month

February 2017


If you’re shooting into the light, then you’re going to encounter lens flare at some time or another. 
This happens when you’re looking at the sun, or even just a single light source, such as a flashlight.

Often lens flare is undesired,  but for the purpose of this post, we want it.
Shoot into the sun

This is something I’ve written about in the past, and the main points you want to remember is to use spot metering mode on your subject, and expose accordingly. By that, I mean that if you want to prevent your subject from becoming a silhouette, then it’s best to set your to camera manual, and adjust the exposure yourself.
The sun will produce these lovely flares of light as they pass through your lens, and there you have it, you’ve got some pretty lens flare.

Use a Flash

The photo below actually uses a flash as the light source, in an effort to mimic the lighting that could have been there. As you can see, you still get a very similar effect. There is slightly less of it though because the light isn’t as strong, and it’s out of the frame somewhat.


You’ll notice that the lens flare takes the shape of your aperture blades, so take this into consideration. The better quality (more expensive, usually) your lens is, the smoother the flare is going to be. Regardless though, if you open your aperture all the way up, then the flare is going to be smooth and circular as there will be no blades blocking the light.
When you shoot directly into the light source, your camera will have a tough time trying to find the right point of focus, so to counteract this, there’s three things you can do.

  • Firstly, you can use manual focus and take all the control back yourself. This will work, but it’s not exactly the first choice.
  • Secondly, you can use your focal lock to lock your focus on your subject with the sun blocked, and then recompose slightly and take the photo with the focus in the right place.
  • Thirdly, you can use a narrow aperture. When you have lots of light at your disposal, you can stop down to a narrow aperture, and this will give you a deeper depth of field.
Angle The Light

If you want the light to produce an artistic flare, then it needs to be coming across your photo. Good lens flare depends on the angle of the light, which correlates with the time of day. Shoot in the evening with your lens flare coming from the side of your frame, perhaps using the rule of thirds.

(Written by Josh)

 Annelize Habig -12 (Gold)

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