Who doesn’t love sun flare?
Letting light enter directly into the camera lens creates beautiful swirls and rainbows in the frame that can provide your image with additional dimension. It’s the reason photographers (and their subjects) love to hit the “golden hour,” that magical hour preceding sunrise or sunset. And it’s also a technique that anyone can use to bring more visual interest to their work.
Letting the right amount of light directly into the lens can take some practice. Here’s what to know to get it right, including tips straight from a professional photographer.
What Is Sun Flare?
In the world of photography, sun flare refers to that special tint, haze, or starburst of light that occurs when you capture the sun in your image. It can be subtle, such as a few glitter-like twinkles of light in the background. It can also be more of a central focus, obscuring your subject to help you achieve a desired effect. Sun flare is common in lifestyle and outdoor photography.
How to Capture Sun Flare
Here are five helpful tips for capturing sun flare from photographer Lindsay Crandall.
1. If You’re Using a DSLR, Shoot in Manual
If you shoot in auto, your camera will compensate for all that light by making the photo darker. Adjust your settings and slow down your shutter speed to tell your camera to capture flare and to control the amount of light coming in.
2. Use Spot Metering
To use spot metering, tilt your camera so the sun is no longer pouring directly into the lens or use your hand to block the sun (like a visor) and meter off your subject. For best results, overexpose by one or two stops to make sure enough light is entering the frame.
3. Capture Flare When the Sun is Low
Make use of the golden hour. You can get flare any time of day, but it’s easiest when the sun is near the horizon line.
4. Don’t Point the Camera Directly at the Sun
Angle your camera slightly so you can position the flare to the right or left of your subject. You don’t want the flare to distract from your subject, especially when photographing someone’s face.
5. If You’re Using a Phone, Play Around With Positioning
Tilting the phone a bit to the left or right, and up or down, to see how it affects both the streams of light and the flare. Lock and adjust your exposure by tapping and holding your finger on the screen for three seconds, then scroll up to increase the exposure or down to decrease it.
The best way to capture sun flare: practice! It will take trial and error to get it right, and you never know where the magic might be until you see it later on.
Use Light to Take Better Portraits
Portrait Photography: Working with Natural Light.