Lens Flare in Images: A Finish Manual

Ora Sawyers

Lens flare can surface as places or streaks of light and coloration or as a washed-out hazy glimpse in your photos. Some photographers and filmmakers like to use it creatively, but it usually displays up as an disagreeable surprise that can wreck your image.

What Results in Lens Flare?

Lens flare takes place when stray light enters the lens and is mirrored off interior lens elements. You’ll get it most usually when capturing into a bright gentle like the sunshine, moon, or synthetic mild, or when your matter is blocking a vivid light-weight.

A diagram of off-camera daylight triggering lens flare. Illustration by Ggia and accredited underneath CC BY-SA 3..

Zoom lenses tend to be extra inclined to lens flare than primary lenses simply because they generally have much more components, which signifies there is extra likely for non-image-generating mild to bounce around and make flare. For the exact same cause, lens filters can improve the risk of producing lens flare. Huge-angle lenses are normally extra flare-resistant than for a longer time lenses, but that doesn’t suggest they’re immune from flare.

Lens brands incorporate unique coatings to aid decrease lens flare, but they can’t minimize the risk of lens flare to zero. However, there are points we can do to keep away from lens ground and do away with it in write-up if vital.

Lens flare from immediate sunlight seen as spots on a lighthouse.

Styles of Lens Flare

There are quite a few diverse varieties of lens flare:


Starbursts come about when you shoot a bright point of mild, these as the solar, moon, or artificial light, at a bigger f-stop, generally f/8 to f/16. Bigger f-stops will generate extended and sharper bursts than lessen f-stops. Use a lower f-cease if you want to reduce the burst effect.

You can also develop a starburst by blocking some of the light-weight and permitting it peak out from at the rear of a reliable object like the way component of the solar in the picture under is blocked by the tree department.
You can control the dimensions of the burst with your aperture. In the image earlier mentioned, the photo on the still left was shot at f16, building a powerful burst outcome. The photograph on the left was shot at f4, ensuing in a softer and shorter burst.


Ghosting appears as small round or oval-shaped places of coloration when shooting into a vibrant light or when a vibrant light-weight is in the scene. You’ll see it in the viewfinder if you appear for it and can usually get rid of it by a slight change in the angle of the digicam to the light source.

Ghosting flare appears of spherical or oval shaped colours.


Veiling lens flare seems to be like a hazy clean above your picture. It transpires when a solid mild source is just outside the house your image.

Here’s an instance of the hazy, reduced contrast seem made by veil flare.

Sensor Flare

Sensor flare, also identified as red-dot flare (even though in some cases the dots are inexperienced), is prompted by light that is mirrored off the sensor to the lens and then again to the sensor. It occurs most typically when taking pictures straight into a powerful gentle like the sun with a compact aperture of f/11 or bigger.

The location sample that seems close to the best of the sunlight are examples of sensor flare. The circles of mild in opposition to the windmill are ghosting flares.


Anamorphic lens flare appears as a horizontal streak of gentle relatively than the typical circular flares. At first they ended up the result of a flaw in the optics of anamorphic lenses. Lenses have improved above the years and you can obtain anamorphic lenses that no more time deliver the streak. Nonetheless, filmmakers and photographers who want the glimpse can purchase streak filters to generate anamorphic-like flares.

Continue to frames from the Hollywood blockbuster movie Star Trek (2009). Director J.J. Abrams is identified for his recurrent use (and some would say overuse) of lens flare in his Star Trek sequence.

How to Avoid Lens Flare

Since flare is most generally triggered by capturing into dazzling mild, the obvious alternative is to not do that. Of program, that solution isn’t always realistic considering the fact that it could severely restrict your compositional options. Nonetheless, there are numerous items you can do to eliminate, or at least minimize, lens flare.

  • Use a lens hood. Most lenses occur with a lens hood intended to minimize lens flare. They function a small like the visor of cap, shielding the lens from tray light-weight.
  • Use your hand. With the cap analogy in intellect, hold your hand or a hat up coming to or above the lens to consider and block some of the stray mild hitting the lens. Use stay perspective so you can see if your hand is serving to and also to make certain it is not obtaining into the image.
  • Clear away your lens filters. As outlined, lens filters can raise the hazard of lens flare, so take away the filter if capturing into dazzling light-weight.
  • Re-compose. You are going to see lens flare in your viewfinder while composing if you glimpse carefully for it. If you see it, attempt re-composing by just shifting the angle of your camera to the light-weight source.
  • Occur back later on (or previously). If you’re capturing into the sunlight and it results in flare, try once more at a distinctive time when the solar is in a distinctive place.
  • Use a broader aperture. Setting your aperture to a lessen f-halt, these types of as f8 or decreased, can enable lessen flare.
  • Use your finger. This trick entails getting two pics and mixing them in Photoshop. It performs well if the flare appears under the sunlight. Initial, swap to handbook exposure. Body up your shot and acquire the picture Then reduced a finger in front of the lens until finally it blocks the solar. Load the two photos on to different levels in Photoshop with the image with flare on top. Generate a mask for the flare layer and then use a black brush to mask out the flare and expose the clear picture beneath.
  • Thoroughly clean your lens. Dust and other places on your lens will incorporate flare to your pictures when taking pictures into dazzling gentle, so preserve them clear.

How to Get rid of Lens Flare

You can often eliminate lens flare in Lightroom and/or Photoshop, relying on the sort and severity of the flare. In Lightroom, the healing resources can generally cope with flare if it appears as just a minor location of light or color. You might have to experiment with the content-knowledgeable, therapeutic brush or clone stamp to see which will work greatest.

Bigger flares or many flares could require Photoshop’s far more highly effective re-touching resources. These incorporate the eliminate device, location therapeutic brush, healing brush, patch device, clone stamp, and written content-aware fill. It will call for some demo and error to find the greatest instrument or the best mix of instruments to get a satisfying final result.

Just one trick with the clone stamp is to modify the blend manner to colour. When you do this, the clone stamp will only duplicate the shade of the supply space somewhat than all of the detail. So if you find a area of the graphic where by the color matches (additional or much less) the shade that the flared space should be, you can use the clone stamp to paint over that spot with just the proper shade and go away the underlying pixels intact. Like every thing, it will possibly consider some practice and will depend on the precise predicament.

The Finger Trick

Ultimately, let us do a fast walkthrough of the finger trick described higher than. It’s finest to use a tripod, but you can get away with carrying out this handheld if you are careful not to transform the framing of the scene.

Swap to handbook exposure. You have to use handbook exposure to keep the publicity from modifying when you put your finger in entrance of the lens.
Set up your shot and acquire the very first picture with the lens flare.

Decrease a finger down in entrance of the lens right up until your fingertip blocks the solar or other gentle source, reducing the lens flare. Acquire the shot.

Load the two pictures into Photoshop as different layers. Set the just one with the flare on leading. Generate a mask on the leading layer with the flare and use a black brush to mask out the flare.

About the author: John Tunney is a high-quality-art photographer and instructor centered on Cape Cod, MA. You can see his work on his web site and on Instagram.

Image credits: Shots by John Tunney.

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