Create Artistic Lens Flare

Create Artistic Lens Flare

By Susan Tuttle

I generally try to avoid lens flare in most of my photography by attaching a lens hood like this one, but on occasion I like to create artistic lens flare to add ethereal, dreamy effects to my evening-time, golden hour photos. It’s very easy to do, but worthy of a few guiding tips…

Tips for achieving artistic lens flare:

  • Shoot into the sun.
  • When your subject(s) is set against a warm, evening back light it is common for it to look too dark in the resulting photo. Sometimes this can produce a lovely silhouette or semi-silhouette effect. If you are not interested in a silhouette effect and want to ensure that your subject(s) remains bright and clear, use your DSLR’s Spot Metering mode, as I did for the photos in this post.
  • Your lens can make all the difference. All lenses can achieve lens flare but some definitely do a better, more interesting job of it. I myself favor my 50mm f/1.8 lens — it creates stunning, colorful lens flares when set to its widest aperture (and some pretty amazing soft bokeh), as seen in the photos of this post. Be aware that if you are too close to your subject, a very wide aperture can cause blurring of facial features. I am not a fan of one eye in focus and the other eye a blur.
  • Sometimes shooting into the sun can cause problems with your camera’s autofocus mechanism, where the camera searches and searches and has trouble locking focus on your subject. If this happens to you, use manual focusing instead. Flip the switch on your lens to MF (manual focus) and twist the focus ring until you achieve clear focus.

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