Lens Flare in Pictures: A Full Information

Lens flare can seem as spots or streaks of sunshine and shade or as a washed-out hazy look in your pictures. Some photographers and filmmakers like to make use of it creatively, but it surely normally reveals up as an disagreeable shock that may destroy your image.

What Causes Lens Flare?

Lens flare happens when stray mild enters the lens and is mirrored off inside lens components. You’ll get it most frequently when taking pictures right into a vibrant mild just like the solar, moon, or synthetic mild, or when your topic is obstructing a vibrant mild.

A diagram of off-camera daylight inflicting lens flare. Illustration by Ggia and licensed beneath CC BY-SA 3.0.

Zoom lenses are usually extra liable to lens flare than prime lenses as a result of they typically have extra components, which implies there’s extra potential for non-image-producing mild to bounce round and create flare. For a similar purpose, lens filters can improve the chance of manufacturing lens flare. Large-angle lenses are normally extra flare-resistant than longer lenses, however that doesn’t imply they’re immune from flare.

Lens producers add particular coatings to assist cut back lens flare, however they will’t cut back the chance of lens flare to zero. Nevertheless, there are issues we are able to do to keep away from lens flooring and eradicate it in put up if mandatory.

Lens flare from direct daylight seen as spots on a lighthouse.

Sorts of Lens Flare

There are a number of several types of lens flare:


Starbursts occur while you shoot a vibrant level of sunshine, such because the solar, moon, or synthetic mild, at a better f-stop, usually f/8 to f/16. Increased f-stops will create longer and sharper bursts than decrease f-stops. Use a decrease f-stop if you wish to decrease the burst impact.

You can even create a starburst by blocking a number of the mild and letting it peak out from behind a stable object like the way in which a part of the solar within the picture under is blocked by the tree department.
You’ll be able to management the dimensions of the burst together with your aperture. Within the picture above, the image on the left was shot at f16, creating a robust burst impact. The image on the left was shot at f4, leading to a softer and shorter burst.


Ghosting seems as small spherical or oval-shaped spots of shade when taking pictures right into a vibrant mild or when a vibrant mild is within the scene. You’ll see it within the viewfinder if you happen to search for it and may usually eradicate it by a slight change within the angle of the digicam to the sunshine supply.

Ghosting flare seems of spherical or oval formed colours.


Veiling lens flare appears to be like like a hazy wash over your picture. It occurs when a robust mild supply is simply exterior your picture.

Right here’s an instance of the hazy, low distinction look created by veil flare.

Sensor Flare

Sensor flare, additionally referred to as red-dot flare (though generally the dots are inexperienced), is attributable to mild that’s mirrored off the sensor to the lens after which again to the sensor. It occurs most frequently when taking pictures straight into a robust mild just like the solar with a small aperture of f/11 or increased.

The spot sample that seems across the high of the solar are examples of sensor flare. The circles of sunshine towards the windmill are ghosting flares.


Anamorphic lens flare seems as a horizontal streak of sunshine fairly than the same old round flares. Initially they have been the results of a flaw within the optics of anamorphic lenses. Lenses have improved through the years and you should buy anamorphic lenses that now not produce the streak. Nevertheless, filmmakers and photographers who need the look should purchase streak filters to create anamorphic-like flares.

Nonetheless frames from the Hollywood blockbuster movie Star Trek (2009). Director J.J. Abrams is thought for his frequent use (and a few would say overuse) of lens flare in his Star Trek collection.

Learn how to Keep away from Lens Flare

Since flare is mostly attributable to taking pictures into vibrant mild, the plain resolution is to not try this. In fact, that strategy isn’t all the time sensible because it may severely restrict your compositional selections. Nonetheless, there are a number of issues you are able to do to eradicate, or not less than cut back, lens flare.

  • Use a lens hood. Most lenses include a lens hood designed to scale back lens flare. They work just a little just like the visor of cap, shielding the lens from tray mild.
  • Use your hand. With the cap analogy in thoughts, maintain your hand or a hat subsequent to or above the lens to attempt to block a number of the stray mild hitting the lens. Use dwell view so you’ll be able to see in case your hand helps and in addition to ensure it isn’t stepping into the image.
  • Take away your lens filters. As talked about, lens filters can improve the chance of lens flare, so take away the filter if taking pictures into vibrant mild.
  • Re-compose. You’ll see lens flare in your viewfinder whereas composing if you happen to look fastidiously for it. For those who see it, strive re-composing by simply shifting the angle of your digicam to the sunshine supply.
  • Come again later (or earlier). For those who’re taking pictures into the solar and it creates flare, strive once more at a unique time when the solar is in a unique place.
  • Use a wider aperture. Setting your aperture to a decrease f-stop, comparable to f8 or decrease, may help decrease flare.
  • Use your finger. This trick includes taking two footage and mixing them in Photoshop. It really works effectively if the flare seems under the solar. First, change to handbook publicity. Body up your shot and take the image Then decrease a finger in entrance of the lens till it blocks the solar. Load the 2 photographs onto separate layers in Photoshop with the picture with flare on high. Create a masks for the flare layer after which use a black brush to masks out the flare and reveal the clear picture under.
  • Clear your lens. Mud and different spots in your lens will add flare to your photographs when taking pictures into vibrant mild, so preserve them clear.

Learn how to Take away Lens Flare

You’ll be able to usually take away lens flare in Lightroom and/or Photoshop, relying on the kind and severity of the flare. In Lightroom, the therapeutic instruments can usually deal with flare if it seems as just a bit spot of sunshine or shade. You might have to experiment with the content-aware, therapeutic brush or clone stamp to see which works finest.

Bigger flares or a number of flares might require Photoshop’s extra highly effective re-touching instruments. These embody the take away software, spot therapeutic brush, therapeutic brush, patch software, clone stamp, and content-aware fill. It can require some trial and error to seek out one of the best software or one of the best mixture of instruments to get a lovely outcome.

One trick with the clone stamp is to vary the mix mode to paint. If you do that, the clone stamp will solely copy the colour of the supply space fairly than all the element. So if you happen to discover a part of the picture the place the colour matches (kind of) the colour that the flared space needs to be, you need to use the clone stamp to color over that space with simply the precise shade and depart the underlying pixels intact. Like the whole lot, it’s going to in all probability take some follow and can depend upon the particular scenario.

The Finger Trick

Lastly, let’s do a fast walkthrough of the finger trick described above. It’s finest to make use of a tripod, however you will get away with doing this handheld if you happen to’re cautious to not change the framing of the scene.

Change to handbook publicity. You need to use handbook publicity to maintain the publicity from altering while you put your finger in entrance of the lens.
Arrange your shot and take the primary image with the lens flare.

Decrease a finger down in entrance of the lens till your fingertip blocks the solar or different mild supply, eliminating the lens flare. Take the shot.

Load the 2 photographs into Photoshop as separate layers. Put the one with the flare on high. Create a masks on the highest layer with the flare and use a black brush to masks out the flare.

Concerning the creator: John Tunney is a fine-art photographer and teacher primarily based on Cape Cod, MA. You’ll be able to see his work on his website and on Instagram.

Picture credit: Photographs by John Tunney.