Monday Photography Tip–Removing Lens Glare

Until I actually get my act together and make a plan, the tips will be a little spastic, much like their author.   Which means, there will be no rhyme or reason to why I choose one tip over another.


So, today, I’ll tell you a very simple tip for removing the glare that sometimes appears in your photos, when you are shooting toward the sun. 

I was playing around shooting a sunset one day and I could see that I was getting the flare.  I liked it and hoped it would add a little something to the picture, but, obviously, this photo is not all that great; the sun is far too over-exposed.  It’s just a huge mass of yellow with no definition.  Plus, it’s just plain boring, composition-wise.  But it was the first photo I came acress with a flare, so I’m going with it.

Here’s another example of a lens flare:

See the little circles running through the picture?  That’s a lens flare.  They appear because there is too much light going into the lens.

My friend, Chase, took this picture of me a while back, and I actually ADDED the flare in Photoshop.  (I have no logical explanation for why I put one in the above photo.  Maybe it was the high altitude and lack of oxygen affecting my brain, or maybe I needed a Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, or maybe I just hoped the lens flare would distract from my freakishly tall head…who knows?  I just felt like it.  Okay?)  (And, no I do not live in the mountains.  In fact, I’m pretty darn close to being below sea level….) 

Anyway, here’s your simple solution to lens flares:  You need to find some shade–for your lens.    Some of you may have a digital SLR camera with interchangeable lens that have lens hoods.  Use your hoods.

But, for those of you who don’t have lens hoods, or you own a point and shoot camera, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Take a piece of paper and a couple rubber bands to create a makeshift hood for your lens.  Just roll the paper around the end of the lens and use the rubber bands to secure it.  (This will not work well if you are shooting with a real wide lens, though, because you’ll see the paper in your viewfinder.)  Make sure your paper is proportional to your lens–if you have a point and shoot camera, then you can’t, obviously, use an 8×11 piece of paper.
  2. If you don’t have paper and rubber bands handy, you can simply use one hand to shade the end of your lens.
  3. If you can’t reach the end of your lens and still hold the camera securely, ask someone else who is hanging around to help.  They will need to stand to your side  and simply create an umbrella for your lens (or they can stand between the sun and your subject–assuming they aren’t being seen in the picture).
  4. If you are completely alone and cannot ask for a helping hand, you could set your camera on a tripod, or a table, or some other sturdy object, get your picture in focus, and set your self-timer for 2 seconds, while you stand next to your camera and shade the lens yourself.
  5. Another handy item to have on hand when out taking pictures, is a simple car reflector/shade.  You know, the thing you put on your dashboard on those hot summer days, in an attempt to keep your car cool?  Grab that!  It not only can be used to shade your camera and prevent lens flare, it can also be used to shade your subject, if they are in harsh sunlight.  (Or, you can use it to reflect light up into your subject’s face when added light is needed.)

I know that’s really, really simple.  But, I hope you’ll keep it in mind next time you are attempting a sunset/sunrise photo, or any other situation with direct sunlight (or stage lights) creating lens flare.

Happy shooting!



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