Create Beautiful Lens Flare (An Under 600 Word Tip)

There’s a weird problem with moderns lenses. Photographers want cinematic looking photos, but they only get clinical looking lenses. On the cinema side, manufacturers provide lenses with flare and tons of character. Let’s admit it, modern camera lenses just make you have to work more in post-production to get the look that you want. What’s more, they all look the exact same. If you’re looking for beautiful lens flare though, there are a few ways of doing it with modern lenses. And we’re talking about how to do that right here.

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Create Beautiful Lens Flare With Some Fingerprints

One way to get that gorgeous lens flare is by just getting fingerprints on the front of your lens. Your natural oils will do a pretty good job as long as you really cover up the front element. Combine this with removing the lens hood and then backlight your subject for the best effect.

So why does your lens flare not appear naturally? Well, the manufacturers have worked to consistently remove it by making lenses more and more contrasty. The lower the contrast, the more lens flare. The more contrast there is, the less lens flare will appear. Yet some lenses find ways to do this with apochromatic lens elements. But most of the Japanese made lenses don’t use these elements unfortunately.

A Clear Filter with Oil or Smudges

If you don’t want to clean your lens’s front element later on, then consider using a clear filter or some other sort of filter. Slap it onto the front of your camera and then cover it with stuff like oil, smudges, hamburger grease, vaseline, etc. This is a trick that photographers have been using for longer than I’ve been alive. This will also soften the focus and might even mess with your camera’s autofocusing. So be sure to use only a little bit of it. 

Some photographers might tell you to put a pair of tights or pantyhose over the front of your lens. This could also work, but it’s not as effective at creating gorgeous lens flare. Instead, it’s better for just softening the look of the image overall.

A Haze Filter

Luckily, in the past few years, filters have come out that give photographers a bit more haze. You’ve probably heard of things like the Tiffin Pro Mist filters that do just this. Besides adding in halation, they lower the contrast in the image. This makes it easier to create that beautiful lens flare that you’re looking for. 

To get gorgeous lens flare like what you see above, backlight your subject. Expose for their face, and position yourself so that the sun is coming from behind the subject at a 30-degree or 45-degree angle towards the camera. This will let the sunlight spill into the frame and make lens flare happen. Then move around a bit and see what sort of a look you get. For the best results, turn on the exposure preview setting in this case if you’re using a mirrorless camera. If you’re using a camera with an optical viewfinder, you’ll be a bit out of luck. But generally speaking, if you wear glasses and you see lens flare in your glasses, you’ll get the same thing happening with your camera.

Follow these tips and you’ll get the gorgeous lens flare that you’re looking for. And 

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.