Lens Flare

012_DurangoCirclesTo coin a phrase, “Lens Flare happens”.

It is a natural physical phenomenon, the product of light bouncing around inside a lens.

Lenses are designed to bend light, but the lens elements also reflect light to some degree.

Modern lenses are coated to reduce mirroring, but cannot remove the effects completely.

Light sources shining directly into a lens cause internal reflections among the lens elements.

A reasonable exposure means that light sources become over exposed. The echoing of light within the lens components produces artifacts and/or haze in the final image.

This fallout depends on the placement of light sources in the image frame, and sometimes just outside the frame.

Artifacts form as circles or polygons, shaped like the aperture opening, and vary in size. They appear along an axis, from the light source across the center of the frame.

Lenses made up of a large number of elements, such as zoom lenses, tend to exhibit greater lens flare due to the increase in reflective surfaces.

Often flaring is not seen in the viewfinder or monitor. The impressions accumulate during a long exposure.

The effects of lens flare are usually undesirable, and introduce visual distractions which can diminish the intent of the overall image.

When photographing the great diversity of light at night, there is always potential for lens flare. We will discuss solutions to handling this tricky anomaly in the next few posts.

IMAGE : Circles, Durango Railyard, CO

This is the product of my first journey into the railyard, quite the challenge. I did not notice flare in my viewfinder. The intense light caused both artifacts and haze.

I did some touch-up work but was unable to clean up the most obvious circular artifacts to my satisfaction. So I did the next best thing, I titled the image “Circles”.

Kind of like one of those kids’ puzzles: “How many circles can you spot in the picture?”

This was a 2 minute exposure shot at f16 with TMAX 3200 film.

IMAGE TINT : GalleryTintype

A tint reminiscent of a tintype was used to spotlight the look and feel of the vintage setting.

This B&W image was toned in Adobe Photoshop with an ICC Profile I generated from my Mac App SuiteProfiler. The Profile was derived from the “GalleryTintype” Color Map created in SuiteProfiler.

Click these buttons to download the ICC Profile and SuiteProfiler Color Map:

EXERCISE : Lens Flare

Aim your camera at a scene with bright light sources that create lens flare. Make sure you can see the flaring in your viewfinder or monitor.

Move your camera vertically and horizontally to see how the artifacts change. Attempt to minimize the flaring by centering the light sources in the frame.

Photograph your subject by bracketing to see the effects with varying exposure times.

Be sure to review the Safety & Precautions page.

NEXT TIME : “Lens Flare Repair”


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4 thoughts on “Lens Flare

  1. Pingback: Lens Flare Repair | The Art of Night Photography

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