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Lens Flare: What’s the Big Deal?

If you’ve started out in photography shooting digital, you may be thinking, what’s the big deal? I mean, lens flare with digital is gorgeous and fun to play with, right?? Unfortunately, it’s quite a bit trickier with film. There are definitely amazing lens flare film shots out there, but for those just starting out in film I’ve got a few suggestions of how to avoid the bad stuff and create the dreamiest lens flare images.

Tell Me Why

When you allow light to hit your lens directly it acts as a bit of a ping pong ball, and instead of exposing the film to create an image by going on the correct light path through your lens, it bounces around and leaves your image with muddy shadows, low contrast and shifts in color - basically showing symptoms of underexposure, even if you metered and rated correctly. Below you can see a very clear difference between the top image and the bottom image. The top image looks slightly gray compared to the bottom image, it has a lot less contrast, more grain and muddy shadows. Just by stepping slightly to the left you can see how much beautiful color has returned to the image, as well as a good amount of contrast and very little grain.

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Using Lens Flare the right way

As you get more comfortable with the basics of film, play play play! Experimentation is half the battle…buuut as you’re playing around with this technique stick to two simple tricks to nail it. Number one, only allow the light to slightly sneak in at the top of your lens - as we’ve already established, letting that light hit your lens directly is going to make a mess of things, so be sneaky and just let a tiny bit in. Number two overexpose to keep the shadows from going muddy, usually this is only really necessary in the bottom image type situation. When you have SO much bright gorgeous light hitting the back of your subject the shadows in front of your subject are going to be much deeper, so overexposing by one additional stop (after you’ve metered, of course) is going to open up those shadows and keep you from having any muddiness or extra grain.

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Happy Shooting! Be sure to tag your images on IG with #filmobsessedclub so I can see and feature you’re amazing work!

Melese MillerComment