7 Steps for Getting Great Camera Flare

Today we are going to talk about how to get lens flare! Lens flare is my (Jody) FAVORITE to shoot! Getting great flare can be a little tricky and take a bit of practice and tweaking, so we will share some tips that will give you the best opportunities for success to get awesome flarey goodness :)

Flare is created when direct light shoots into your lens, creating a sunburst effect. This can be done with natural light or even strobe, but for today’s tips, we’ll talk about flare in relation to using the sun, which can be the most tricky.

Here are some tips to getting lens flare:1. Position your subject with his/her back to the light source.2. For getting the most flare, remove your lens hood.3. It can be really hard to focus on your subject with the light shooting into your lens, so you’ll need to block the light to enable you to focus. You can either use your subject, something in the scene of your frame (tree, building, etc), or my preference – my hand. I hold my hand out over my lens, blocking the light shooting into the lens, focus on my subject, remove my hand & recompose the shot to how I want, then I shoot. (*The camera can magnify the power of the sun through your camera’s eye piece, so it should go without saying, never look directly at the sun.)

4. Depending on the time of day and the harshness of the sun, the flare can totally wash out your image. You can prevent this (or tone the flare down) by adjusting your framing and place objects within your image that partially or fully blog the light source.

5. Shoot multiple images. Taking a sequence of images as you slowly pan away from your subject or as you are moving your framing around as you adjust the light that is coming into your lens will give you the best variety of images for your to pick the flare shot that you love best. (*This is where back-button focus really comes in handy. Stay tuned for a back-button blog post).

These next two tips are the final and biggest tips that will make your flare images really rock!

6. Shoot on manual!! If you are shooting on any auto mode, because the camera’s meter is a reflective meter it’s going to see all the light shooting into the lens and will naturally underexpose your subject. Thus the more flare you get, the darker your subject will become. Your subject can end up looking more like a silhouette… kind of like the below shot.

7. Add a reflector. If you want that extra pop of light on your subject, use a reflector to bounce some of that beautiful light coming from the sun back into your subject’s face. This will make your subject really pop and will make the image even more dynamic.

Here is the set-up for the above image.

Finally, there is no “correct” flare. It is whatever you prefer :)

Here is an image Zach took with a strobe with sun flare.

Here is an image taken by one of us with strobe flare.

Below is a flare shot taken at Stephen & Scarlett’s wedding. Because it was during the ceremony, we did not use a reflector to put extra light on their faces :)

Fun times! Now go out and practice and happy flare!