Life is full of happy accidents, and so are film shoots. The effect we know as “lens flare” is actually an optical malfunction, occurring when the light of the sun (or another powerful source) produces visible artifacts as it hits the lens. This technical “mistake” appears in the form of light streaks, circles, or even an all-encompassing haze that can wash out your picture.
When put to use for dramatic effect, however, lens flares can add a sense of blissful intensity or romance to otherwise standard shots. Here are three tips for channeling the power of light to your advantage.
1. Remove the Hood
To ensure that light directly hits your lens, you’ll want to remove your lens hood. The intensity of the light entering your camera can make it harder to focus, though, so make sure to block the light while you check that your subject is sharp.
Lens flare, bokeh, and rack focus are all put to great use in this shimmery clip:
2. Keep Subjects in the Foreground
To ensure a beautiful glow, keep your subjects in the foreground with the sun/light behind them. This allows the light to seemingly wrap around whatever you’re shooting before it hits the lens (hopefully creating some serious beauty in the process).
The delicate lens flare in this clip adds a romantic, summery feel to this shot of a bicycle ride:
3. Keep Moving
Making lens flare work for you is all about movement and experimentation. Once you start to see the the sun hitting your lens, adjust your position to cause the effects to morph. Sometimes just a slight movement one way or the other will result in very different types of artifacts appearing in the flare. Experimenting as you move with your subjects can lead to a wide range of often stunning results.
- Jorja Hudson, Content Editor