How to Eliminate Lens Flare

0Comments

It’s amazing how the smallest things can have such a massive impact upon a photo (both in a positive and negative way).

One such small thing that can both enhance and detract from an image is the ‘sunspot’ (or lens flare). Shoot into the sun on a sunny day (or into bright lights) and you’re sure to get them in your images at some point or another..

Positioned well and in the right type of photo they can actually add something to the shot – giving it a more informal and paparazzi feel (in fact some photo editing software help you add sunspots to create this feel).

However in many instances sunspots or lens flare can be a distracting element – a problem that all but ruins an otherwise great shot. Of course you can try editing them out later, but it’s probably best to eliminate them before they happen. Here’s a few techniques to try:

Lens Hoods

The way that professionals generally deal with lens flare is to use a purpose made lens hood on their DSLR lens. Most DSLRs and prosumer digital cameras these days come with the ability to attach lens hood (in fact most professional grade lenses come with them when you purchase them). These hoods are specifically designed to overcome sunspots while allowing as much light into the lens as possible. They come in all shapes and sizes depending upon the design of the lens, its focal length, whether it has a zoom etc. The main downside of them is that they can be a pain to transport (some of the lens hoods for my lenses are as big as the lenses themselves) but they do work pretty effectively and really add something to your shots (and they can look quite cool and make you look like more of a pro too!).

Give Your Lens a Hand

If you don’t have a lens hood (or your camera can’t take one) then use your God given hood – your hand (or someone else’s) to help shield your lens from the sun. Just be aware of not putting it in the corner of your frame if you’re shooting at a wide angle focal length – especially if you’re shooting through a viewfinder that is not on a single lens reflex camera (where what you see through the viewfinder is slightly different to what you get in the actual image).

Zoom

If you don’t have access to a lens hood and you’re using a camera with a zoom lens you might find that moving your zoom to a different focal length might help decrease the impact of sun spots. It might not remove them completely but could lessen the impact and/or change the position of them to a less distracting spot in the image.

Reposition Yourself

One of the most effective ways of reducing lens flare is to move yourself to a new shooting position – either so you’re not shooting into the Sun quite as directly or so that your lens is more shaded by some other object from the Sun or main light source. Try moving around your subject but also try changing the height that you’re shooting from (ie get down low or shoot down from a height) as all of these things change the angle at which light hits your lens.

Using Composition to Eliminate Lens Flare

Another option for getting rid of lens flare is to use elements within your image to block it. Sometimes it’s possible to to place a tree, building, person’s head or some other element between the sun and the lens – and as a result remove the flare altogether.

Work With It

If you can’t eliminate lens flare consider working WITH it. You might need to try a few different framings and positions to shoot from to make sure it’s in a good position that adds to the impact of your shot – but don’t be afraid of it. At times it can actually give that special something or point of interest to a shot.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • freundstahl

    It may be worthwhile to point out that some lenses have a special coating just to protect against lens flare. This is mostly found in select professional lenses.

  • Lee

    Here’s a great resource for those lacking the funds for $50+ pieces of plastic.

    http://www.lenshoods.co.uk/

  • Another thing that’s related to eliminating flare is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Filters (especially poor quality ones) often will introduce lens flare into a shot. In a timely coincidence, I blogged about why I’m a no-filter guy a few days ago: http://www.hockleyphoto.com/blog/uv-filter-or-not/

  • Thanks for the advice, I will try shielding the glare with my hand instead of changing the shot.

  • Also worth mentioning is that cheaper filters often make photos more prone to glare.

  • Dupe.
    I mean, come on. It even has the same picture of a guy behind a severe lens flare as it had months ago!

    –Klaidas
    http://www.klaidas.lt

  • Klaidas – take a deep breath…. yes, this is a post that is from our archives that was originally written in 2006 and that yesterday was updated.

    As you’ll see above in the comments, not everyone has read every article in our archives like you – we republish some of our archives occasionally when we feel it’ll be useful for readers.

    We do this to give our authors a break but also because so many of our readers don’t see our archives that it seems like a waste not to highlight them occasionally.

    As I’ve responded to your comments before on numerous occasions…. If you’d like to submit a post that you think would be more helpful to people you’re always welcome.

  • It is very true. I also have not read all the posts in the archive and it is good to know this tip.

  • I’m new to photography and DSLR and so I haven’t even begun to venture into your archives (yet!). I thoroughly enjoy my daily email topics from you and do my utmost to take a quick look at them. This one is very valuable as I have a lens hood and really didn’t know what it would do for me. (I’m seriously a NEWBIE.) So now I know and thank you! The picture TOTALLY communicated to me, what you were addressing. Thanks.

  • Bev

    Good news! I photograph homes for my Real Estate Business.
    Today I photographed a new listing and was concerned due
    to the rising Sun and brightness. Yesterday I read this
    article so I used what I learned! I zoomed differently, I repositioned myself and blocked the sun by kneeling and letting the roofline block the sun.

  • Postingtrot3

    Also a newbie with a Ferrari of a camera (Nikon D300) that I’m just learning to use. I read these posts every day and add the ones useful to me right now at this point in my learning to a notebook. I love the site and appreciate the great free knowledge and advice.

  • PARAMES

    Thanks for the wonderful articles..very helpful. I have still a long way to go in using my DSLR effectively. All your articles in DPS are wonderful, and this is one site i never fail to come and read daily. Be it from the archives or new, every piece is a good piece for me. Thanks a lot..

  • PARAMES

    I have also got myself a filter which i have yet to use. I was advised by a fellow photographer to get one to shoot on a very hot sunny day.

  • Eric

    I like using lens flair when I get the chance and even have taken a photo or two that highlight why I use it. Don’t be afraid of it; turn it to your advantage.

  • I agree with Eric.:)

  • Hi everyone, this is a bit different for me as I photograph the sun itself EVERY DAY!!!.I use all the tips given,execpt the hood, because I cant!I even use the flare to advantage sometimes.Other times I hide the sun behind trees.Another thing I do is to use a star filter for great effect, & it hides flares as well. I love DPS, I have learnt a lot, but I’m still shooting with film, but the tips often apply to film as well, thanks DPS!!!. Check out my web site!! http://www.sunrisestosunsets.com.au cheers, Sandy W

  • herkamer

    to prevent sunflare in my photos i always shoot at night this works very well but it is hard to see my subject

  • DK

    i subscribe to your blog’s rss via LJ. i am one of those lurkers who do not comment. because I am almost always too shy to say anything. mostly because I am bad at taking photographs.

    these tips will prove to be very helpful. I am still taking baby steps in photographt. because I take bad photographs! teehee. 😀 but as always, lovely, and keep up the good work. you do not how inspiring you are 🙂

  • Great tips! I always use a lens hood when shooting.

  • Anna

    my problems are not with the sunlight causing flare, it’s at night, when I want to catch city lights, or a lamp… it really disturbs me and I can’t do the composition I want. Are there any advice on how to handle this problem? the advice in this article are good, but if I want to include a lamp in the composition the advices don’t apply so well…:) I only have one lens, a Canon prime 50mm f1.8. Obviously, taking of the uv-filter is not the solution because I’ve tried that. would really appreciate some help! thanks

  • Adam Botond

    I’ve just returned from photographing sunset. I suffered so much with lens flare. Hood didn’t seem to help at all and zooming only slightly reduced them. I’m curious how you guys avoid flares when shooting sunsets. Obviously, when you are about shooting a sunset you want to shoot into the sun and you can move around your subject. Any more tips how to get rid of disturbing flares?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Hi Adam,it can be so frustrating can’t it? I still shoot the sunrise & sunset every day & have not missed either one in over 3175 CONSECITIVE days. Only thing difference to my reply in April 2008 is I am now digital!! I didn’t have much choice really, they’ve all but stopped processing film!!
    I still have glare/flare problems.If you are using any filters,make sure there are NO scratches or dust,however fine as they magnify the glare.If you suspect,but cant see any glare,try moving your camera just slightly to see if you can see “movement” in the shot.Often it looks good,but the flares there when it’s taken.if seeing movement tilt or move the camera very slightly till you cant see movement.I often use overhanging branches & just have the sun behind a leaf,branch, twig or ,trunk etc. watch for the movement again ,even “hiding” spots in the leaves,clouds etc. .Its great when the clouds or background are same or similar colours. Even something as simple as roadside weeds can be used to put the sun behind a small clump among the rest of the weeds,gives a dramatic effect,& gives a very plain,glarry,uneventful sunset into something great.
    As I am beside the roadside mostly locally, every sunrise & sunset,& have been for over 10 years I often have people stopping & asking me to help them with their shots, or they look to see where I am at that time because they say they know I’ll be in the best place for the best results! I am very well known around the South East of Queensland (Australia) as I started around15 years ago.It always gives me a chuckle though as I have never ever had any training at all,I just go with what I feel.It works for me!! What is your location? I know DPS is worldwide.I have learnt a lot from here,but my training has been my own trial & error,it has served me well. good luck,I hope you get rid of your flares,or use them to advantage!
    my website is http://www.sunrisestosunsets.com.au Send me a comment through the web address,cheers,Sandy PS thanks Darren for a great newsletter,I keep passing it on!!

  • andrew

    Anna I am having the same problem with my Canon prime 50mm f1.8 – flare at night from streetlights with and without filters. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

  • I recently bought a Nikon D5000 and the kit that comes along with doesn’t have a lens hood. When I bought a lens hood, I tried shooting with it. Some shots that are zoomed out creates a black blurry object on each side of the picture and it doesn’t look good for me. I guess it is because of the lens hood. Do you think I got the wrong lens hood? it is a flower type/petal type lens hood.

  • Mark

    Lens flare can appear as a general haze across the picture that lightens it reducing contrast. It can also appear as streaks across the picture or shapes, usually circles, in the picture.

    I find similiar tutorial about understanding and how to avoid lens flare when take a shoot… just for share

    http://photograpyreview.blogspot.com/2011/10/understanding-lens-flare.html

  • Thank you so much for posting so much useful information. I just got my first DSLR last month, and every time I google something this site comes up first nearly every time. I never find myself needing to look further! Many thanks!

  • Severelyretired

    Gee, wish I could say this was intentional. But liked the effect! Gotta clean the lens at least yearly.

  • Andy

    Lens flare can be a real pain in landscape… Usually able to get around it, but when the super amazing shot happens to be in the worst possible place (right under the bright morning/evening sun) and even the lens hood doesn’t do much good, it’s quite frustrating.

Some Older Comments

  • Hannah March 15, 2013 11:43 am

    Thank you so much for posting so much useful information. I just got my first DSLR last month, and every time I google something this site comes up first nearly every time. I never find myself needing to look further! Many thanks!

  • Mark November 10, 2011 04:49 pm

    Lens flare can appear as a general haze across the picture that lightens it reducing contrast. It can also appear as streaks across the picture or shapes, usually circles, in the picture.

    I find similiar tutorial about understanding and how to avoid lens flare when take a shoot... just for share

    http://photograpyreview.blogspot.com/2011/10/understanding-lens-flare.html

  • Top Rated Cameras December 14, 2010 04:39 pm

    I recently bought a Nikon D5000 and the kit that comes along with doesn't have a lens hood. When I bought a lens hood, I tried shooting with it. Some shots that are zoomed out creates a black blurry object on each side of the picture and it doesn't look good for me. I guess it is because of the lens hood. Do you think I got the wrong lens hood? it is a flower type/petal type lens hood.

  • andrew October 12, 2009 12:35 am

    Anna I am having the same problem with my Canon prime 50mm f1.8 - flare at night from streetlights with and without filters. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

  • Sandy W August 10, 2009 08:43 am

    Hi Adam,it can be so frustrating can't it? I still shoot the sunrise & sunset every day & have not missed either one in over 3175 CONSECITIVE days. Only thing difference to my reply in April 2008 is I am now digital!! I didn't have much choice really, they've all but stopped processing film!!
    I still have glare/flare problems.If you are using any filters,make sure there are NO scratches or dust,however fine as they magnify the glare.If you suspect,but cant see any glare,try moving your camera just slightly to see if you can see "movement" in the shot.Often it looks good,but the flares there when it's taken.if seeing movement tilt or move the camera very slightly till you cant see movement.I often use overhanging branches & just have the sun behind a leaf,branch, twig or ,trunk etc. watch for the movement again ,even "hiding" spots in the leaves,clouds etc. .Its great when the clouds or background are same or similar colours. Even something as simple as roadside weeds can be used to put the sun behind a small clump among the rest of the weeds,gives a dramatic effect,& gives a very plain,glarry,uneventful sunset into something great.
    As I am beside the roadside mostly locally, every sunrise & sunset,& have been for over 10 years I often have people stopping & asking me to help them with their shots, or they look to see where I am at that time because they say they know I'll be in the best place for the best results! I am very well known around the South East of Queensland (Australia) as I started around15 years ago.It always gives me a chuckle though as I have never ever had any training at all,I just go with what I feel.It works for me!! What is your location? I know DPS is worldwide.I have learnt a lot from here,but my training has been my own trial & error,it has served me well. good luck,I hope you get rid of your flares,or use them to advantage!
    my website is http://www.sunrisestosunsets.com.au Send me a comment through the web address,cheers,Sandy PS thanks Darren for a great newsletter,I keep passing it on!!

  • Adam Botond August 9, 2009 05:20 pm

    I've just returned from photographing sunset. I suffered so much with lens flare. Hood didn't seem to help at all and zooming only slightly reduced them. I'm curious how you guys avoid flares when shooting sunsets. Obviously, when you are about shooting a sunset you want to shoot into the sun and you can move around your subject. Any more tips how to get rid of disturbing flares?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Anna March 8, 2009 03:09 am

    my problems are not with the sunlight causing flare, it's at night, when I want to catch city lights, or a lamp... it really disturbs me and I can't do the composition I want. Are there any advice on how to handle this problem? the advice in this article are good, but if I want to include a lamp in the composition the advices don't apply so well...:) I only have one lens, a Canon prime 50mm f1.8. Obviously, taking of the uv-filter is not the solution because I've tried that. would really appreciate some help! thanks

  • MeiTeng March 7, 2009 11:02 am

    Great tips! I always use a lens hood when shooting.

  • DK September 26, 2008 03:22 pm

    i subscribe to your blog's rss via LJ. i am one of those lurkers who do not comment. because I am almost always too shy to say anything. mostly because I am bad at taking photographs.

    these tips will prove to be very helpful. I am still taking baby steps in photographt. because I take bad photographs! teehee. :D but as always, lovely, and keep up the good work. you do not how inspiring you are :)

  • herkamer April 20, 2008 12:17 am

    to prevent sunflare in my photos i always shoot at night this works very well but it is hard to see my subject

  • Sandy W April 18, 2008 09:22 pm

    Hi everyone, this is a bit different for me as I photograph the sun itself EVERY DAY!!!.I use all the tips given,execpt the hood, because I cant!I even use the flare to advantage sometimes.Other times I hide the sun behind trees.Another thing I do is to use a star filter for great effect, & it hides flares as well. I love DPS, I have learnt a lot, but I'm still shooting with film, but the tips often apply to film as well, thanks DPS!!!. Check out my web site!! http://www.sunrisestosunsets.com.au cheers, Sandy W

  • Natalie Norton April 18, 2008 03:26 am

    I agree with Eric.:)

  • Eric April 17, 2008 05:01 am

    I like using lens flair when I get the chance and even have taken a photo or two that highlight why I use it. Don't be afraid of it; turn it to your advantage.

  • PARAMES April 16, 2008 01:07 pm

    I have also got myself a filter which i have yet to use. I was advised by a fellow photographer to get one to shoot on a very hot sunny day.

  • PARAMES April 16, 2008 01:04 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful articles..very helpful. I have still a long way to go in using my DSLR effectively. All your articles in DPS are wonderful, and this is one site i never fail to come and read daily. Be it from the archives or new, every piece is a good piece for me. Thanks a lot..

  • Postingtrot3 April 16, 2008 08:15 am

    Also a newbie with a Ferrari of a camera (Nikon D300) that I'm just learning to use. I read these posts every day and add the ones useful to me right now at this point in my learning to a notebook. I love the site and appreciate the great free knowledge and advice.

  • Bev April 16, 2008 12:56 am

    Good news! I photograph homes for my Real Estate Business.
    Today I photographed a new listing and was concerned due
    to the rising Sun and brightness. Yesterday I read this
    article so I used what I learned! I zoomed differently, I repositioned myself and blocked the sun by kneeling and letting the roofline block the sun.

  • bravefacari April 15, 2008 11:52 pm

    I'm new to photography and DSLR and so I haven't even begun to venture into your archives (yet!). I thoroughly enjoy my daily email topics from you and do my utmost to take a quick look at them. This one is very valuable as I have a lens hood and really didn't know what it would do for me. (I'm seriously a NEWBIE.) So now I know and thank you! The picture TOTALLY communicated to me, what you were addressing. Thanks.

  • navtej kohli April 15, 2008 04:42 pm

    It is very true. I also have not read all the posts in the archive and it is good to know this tip.

  • Darren April 15, 2008 09:10 am

    Klaidas - take a deep breath.... yes, this is a post that is from our archives that was originally written in 2006 and that yesterday was updated.

    As you'll see above in the comments, not everyone has read every article in our archives like you - we republish some of our archives occasionally when we feel it'll be useful for readers.

    We do this to give our authors a break but also because so many of our readers don't see our archives that it seems like a waste not to highlight them occasionally.

    As I've responded to your comments before on numerous occasions.... If you'd like to submit a post that you think would be more helpful to people you're always welcome.

  • Klaidas April 15, 2008 06:34 am

    Dupe.
    I mean, come on. It even has the same picture of a guy behind a severe lens flare as it had months ago!

    --Klaidas
    http://www.klaidas.lt

  • Fredrik Steffen April 15, 2008 06:18 am

    Also worth mentioning is that cheaper filters often make photos more prone to glare.

  • Pension April 15, 2008 05:43 am

    Thanks for the advice, I will try shielding the glare with my hand instead of changing the shot.

  • Aaron Hockley April 15, 2008 04:15 am

    Another thing that's related to eliminating flare is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Filters (especially poor quality ones) often will introduce lens flare into a shot. In a timely coincidence, I blogged about why I'm a no-filter guy a few days ago: http://www.hockleyphoto.com/blog/uv-filter-or-not/

  • Lee April 15, 2008 04:06 am

    Here's a great resource for those lacking the funds for $50+ pieces of plastic.

    http://www.lenshoods.co.uk/

  • freundstahl April 15, 2008 03:38 am

    It may be worthwhile to point out that some lenses have a special coating just to protect against lens flare. This is mostly found in select professional lenses.

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