Today, we’re going to talk about sun flare. Actually, flare can come from any type of bright light source, but the sun is the biggest culprit. Here’s a quick rundown on the do’s & don’ts of Sun Flair.
Flare can either make an image more unique, as in the image below, or it can be a curse.
I get asked often, mostly by non-photographers or very new beginners – Why do you need a lens hood? Or… My lens came with one, but I don’t when to use it.
First, if you got a lens hood, use it. Second, if you don’t have a lens hood, then get one, and use it. They not only help prevent flares, they’re also a great line of defense against you bumping the front of your lens into something that could crack some glass and spoil your day.
Flare is caused by light, generally at a steep angle to the front of your lens, which instead of going straight thru to the sensor, is bounced around the inside edges of the lens barrel. That trusty ‘ole lens hood helps to block those stray light rays from getting in there.
Now, if you actually what sun flares in your image… Then, ignore everything I’ve said!
The trick is to, first, take off your lens hood, then find an interesting composition which includes the sun, generally somewhere around one of the outside edges of your frame. Now, look thru your viewfinder as you compose the image and you’ll see the flares build up as you move your lens around the scene.
Now, to make those hexagonal flares I’ve got here, along with the nice little star shaped sparkles on the water, ramp your aperture down to around f20 or smaller. I’m at f22 on this image. What you’re seeing is the edges of the aperture blades as they stop down. Every lens is going to have a different pattern, depending on the make-up of the aperture blades.
Then, it’s just matter of finding a scene, following the sun, composing & shooting.
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