Flare in Photography: We need to talk about your Flare…

March 29, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Flare in Photography: We need to talk about your Flare…

Part 2 of ‘What you Want’

In this four-part series, I will be addressing specific techniques like blur, flare, high and low key styles and some specialized styles like the shiny cartoon look and vintage/Indy style or film look. I am in the hopes that this will help you, the client, to better understand what you want to see in your portrait or other photography needs and, in turn, also help you choose the correct photographer for the style you prefer.

Portrait Photography by Rachelle Morvant of Photograph Nashville

Flare in Photography: We need to talk about your Flare…

The definition of lens flare is light reflected internally in passage through a lens from the surfaces of the elements or from parts of the lens or the camera body and does not contribute to the exposure (1). Unless you’re J.J. Abrams, then lens flare is what comes from every light source in the universe at all times, forever.

Portrait Photography by Rachelle Morvant of Photograph Nashville

Basically, it’s when light builds up in a lens by bouncing around between elements and can create a ghost reflection of the camera’s aperture or reduce exposure and contrast in areas as the light invades the lens. This assumes it’s actual lens flare and not something added in post (during editing by using software like Photoshop) which can create flares that don’t follow natural laws. See J.J. Abrams ;)

Portrait Photography by Rachelle Morvant of Photograph Nashville

Flare Spots

Flare renders several different effects. The most obvious is the polygonal shapes of light, shown above, that appear along the axis of the light source. These are referred to as flare spots or “ghosts.” The number of lens elements or layers of glass off which the light bounces dictates the number of replications of this shape.

Portrait Photography by Rachelle Morvant of Photograph Nashville

Veiling

Another effect of flare is called veiling. It is a loss of contrast and a reduction of exposure in a part of the image. This causes a washed out look and can be adjusted to some degree in Photoshop. The above set of images shows this with a zippy-quick adjustment on the second photograph. (2)

Portrait Photography by Rachelle Morvant of Photograph NashvilleAnother affect is a “radiating stream of rainbow colors.” (2)

Many definitions and explanations categorize flare as “unwanted.” But thank goodness photography is art, so the unwanted is embraced and the result is a style of photography that is romantic and often spectacular.

 

Portrait Photography by Rachelle Morvant of Photograph Nashville

The amount of light invading the image is based on position, lens, camera settings, time of day and more. What looks good and what doesn’t is a matter of preference. Some people like the completely washed-out look while others, including myself, like the light to be present but in a saturated, well-contrasted image.

So what do you like?

There are many great photographers, especially in Nashville, who create impressive photographs both in digital and film formats so look for one who matches the style you prefer. If you’re interested in creating your own flare, check out this tutorial.

For portrait and event photography contact Rachelle

www.PhotographNashville.com

www.RachelleMorvant.com

(1). Warren, Bruce. Photography: The Concise Guide. New York: Delmar, 2003.
(2). Neubart, Jack. The Photographer’s Guide to Exposure. New York: AMPHOTO, 1988.

 


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