Lens Flare: What You Need to Know

A lens flare is a type of optical effect that can take place in photographs. It is often seen as a bright point, or circular shape near the light source and it has become an important part of photography for some people. In this blog post, you will learn more about what lens flares are and how they work!

lens flare

 Understanding Lens Flare

An example of a lens flare is different when the light source is near and far. A close light source such as a candle, will produce small blobs whereas a farther light source such as sunlight, will create a circular shape which expands. The colors of a flare can also vary depending on the lighting, but most are warmer colors. Lens flares are often seen in photographs with bright lights because these lights can create an uneven brightness in the photograph.

When this happens, the lens flare often takes on an unusual shape.

Every lens is diffractive and produces a few flares of its own but these are rarely seen by the viewer because they usually occur in areas with low contrast or at high-contrast edges where there is no transition for them to stand out against. A well thought out picture will avoid having any bright light sources near such boundaries so that their internal lenses don’t create artifacts within your image.  The intensity of a flare depends greatly on the brightness of the light source being imaged onto it as well as its size relative to the distance from camera’s sensor plane (film). The closer you get to a point object, the better defined that object becomes and therefore brighter than the other elements in the photograph.

In certain cases, a lens flare can add to an image and actually make it appear more aesthetically pleasing. However, this is not always true for all shots and should be considered on a case by case basis. For example, using lens flares when photographing landscapes tends to look pretty bad because most of these are taken with bright sunlight which produces many uncontrolled light sources within them that end up looking out of place or overly distracting from what you were originally trying to capture!

A good way to avoid getting too much unwanted flare into your images is by simply stopping down the iris (opening) on your camera’s lens to its smallest size as possible without causing vignetting since doing so will block light from entering your camera except for that which enters directly through the iris. The smaller opening will also let less light into the lens and therefore reduce the intensity of any flares produced by it as well!

As you can see, there are many different things to consider when photographing with a lens flare but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since thinking about these sorts of factors is often what separates an amateur photographer from someone who takes their work seriously enough to put real effort into making sure they get high quality shots in both concept and execution. Photography is all about capturing reality so why not try to capture exactly how things appear naturally rather than taking shortcuts? With that being said, people do like looking images no matter where they come from or what they depict, but this is often because the viewer has no way of knowing how much effort went into making them.

What is Lens Flare?

Lens Flare

Lens flares are lens artifacts that are seen when there is a lot of light in the frame, usually because of a strong light source in back or to the side of the subject. Lens flare appears as a group of colorful rings that vary in intensity and size. Lens flare is most often seen on photographs, but it can also be present on videos. The occurrence of lens flare depends on where the light source is relative to the camera; for instance, if the light is between you and your lens, then you will see an increase in lens flare. The effect is more pronounced when shooting near wide-open apertures and with lenses that have large maximum apertures, such as those with f/1.4 or f/2.0. However, even lenses with small maximum apertures can produce lens flares if the light source is close to the frame – especially when shooting at wider angles and/or using wide-angle lenses.

Lens flare comes in several shapes and colors: circles (most common), starbursts, or lines of various thicknesses. The color depends on the type of glass used in making your camera’s lens; for instance, cheaper cameras often use lower quality glass that produces more chromatic aberrations which turn into different colored artifacts within images during post processing. Lens flare usually appears as blue spots near bright lights because it absorbs non-blue wavelengths of visible light. This means that you will see red surrounded by greenish glows (which are often mistaken as lens flare) when using lenses with low quality coatings.

Veiling Flare

A veiling flare is a type of lens flare that appears as an obstruction in the frame with a bright spot in the center. This kind of lens flare is generally caused by an old non-coated or defective lens, as well-coated lenses do not produce it.

The Advanced Imaging Society (AIS) defines lens flare as “an image artifact that appears to be a degradation of the scene, but is actually caused by light being scattered or flared from within the camera body.” Lens flares are generated when strong light bounces off surfaces inside your camera. This can happen on all cameras, not just professional ones. However, sometimes these effects are undesirable and may work against you if they’re distracting in some way. There’s no one cause for lens flaring; however, there are several ways to avoid it while shooting photos so keep reading!

Ghosting Flare

Ghosting flare is a type of lens flare that appears as a highly noticeable ghost or halo around bright objects in the image. Ghosting flare is caused by bright spots in the scene reflecting off the front and rear surfaces of the lens, which can result in double or even triple images of an object.

A ghosting flare could be avoided by stopping down the lens, which reduces light levels reaching the sensor and thus reduces reflective surface area. Shooting with a smaller aperture also limits the depth of field, reducing the amount of light that passes through to the sensor.

Sensor / Red Dot Flare

Sensor flare can be seen in digital imagery such as digital cameras and very occasionally in cinematography. It’s basically an artifact that shows up due to a light reflection on the camera lens or camera sensor. A red dot flare will show up as a reddish or yellowish spot with a point source of light in the middle (it appears as a spike, or “spider legs” shape). The best way to get rid of it is by using your hand, being patient, or recording video footage and playing it at 30 frames per second. This will make it easier to see the sensor/red dot flare and you can take care of it more easily.

Factors Impacting Lens Flare

Factors that can cause lens flare include distance, atmospheric density, and dirt (particles) on the camera’s optics. Longer lenses produce more lens flare than wider lenses.

There are several factors that impact lens flare. The first is the aperture size, which needs to be small for a high amount of contrast and sharpness in an image (Foley). If you have too much light coming into your camera from one side or another it can create what’s called “flare” where bright spots appear on different parts of the frame (Langford-Smith et al., 2010). This will make it difficult to deemphasize those areas if they take away focus form part of your subject matter such as their face or eyes. Another factor could be using polarizing filters to reduce these effects by cutting down reflections off glass surfaces but this might also darken colors so keep that in mind when shooting with one.

Another factor that can cause lens flare is atmospheric density, which happens when you are shooting at high altitudes or near water vapor (Szakolczay). If there’s too much moisture in the air it will refract light and create a haze so this will make it difficult for your camera to focus on any subject matter within your frame. This also occurs if the sun is out of shot but behind heavy cloud cover as its rays then scatter off moisture particles and onto your optical systems creating flares again (Langford-Smith et al., 2010). It might be best to wait until the conditions change before getting into shoot mode otherwise you could end up with some unbalanced images unless they with what you have planned for the images as a whole.

Another factor that can cause lens flare is dirt on the camera’s optics, such as dust or other particles (Langford-Smith et al., 2010). This happens if you don’t have your equipment maintained regularly and clean so it’s best to get into this routine in order to prevent any bad effects from occurring when shooting at night time or during outside shoots which could end up with dusty conditions around you.

All these factors are important considerations depending on what type of shoot you’re doing because not all types will be impacted by one single factor compared to another but they will all impact your ability for imagery so keep them in mind before getting started!

How to Avoid Lens Flare

Lens flares can ruin your video footage. Here are some ways to avoid them:

1. Avoid shooting with the sun in front of you. It blows out the camera’s iris, causing flares.

2. Shield the lens with your hand or a hat if possible, especially if there is animal fur or plastic in the shot

3. Use filters when you shoot outside, such as a UV filter

4. Get a lens hood for your camera, which will shade the lens from stray light

Lens flares are very distracting and can ruin any shot. Luckily you won’t have to deal with them for much longer if you follow these steps. If it is too late though, there’s always Photoshop! That’s right- a quick adjustment in post production software could eliminate all those unsightly lens flares in seconds. With just that little bit of effort, your videos will be free of this annoying problem forevermore.

By avoiding shooting with the sun in front of you or using filters outside when possible (especially on animal fur), getting a lens hood for your camera when necessary and fixing it up quickly after during editing if need be; you’ll never worry about lens flare.


lens flare

Is lens flare good or bad?

Most people would say lens flare is a bad thing and it does ruin videos. However, I’m not sure that you can really call it good or bad. It’s more like there are different degrees of lens flares ranging from the ones that just make a video look old to the ones where it becomes difficult to see anything at all. It’s worth experimenting with both in order to see what works best for your project.

What causes lens flare?

The causes of lens flare are many, but in general it is caused by stray light entering the camera into a lens.

What is a lens flare used for?

The lens flare is used for many different things. There are different degrees of lens flares, so not all are as bad as others. It’s worth experimenting with to see what works best for your project and to see how it can make videos look old or give them a special feeling.

Can you fix lens flare?

Absolutely! If you find yourself fixating on the lens flare in your videos, don’t worry- it’s usually just a quick adjustment in post production software that will clear it up for you.

Where should you put a lens flare?

The best place to place a lens flare is low on the horizon, just before sunset. This will make it look backlit and really make your shots pop.

Why is lens flare occasionally hexagonal?

The hexagonal shape of lens flares is due to the arrangement of the light-gathering elements on the camera lens. The most common type, the six element lens, can form hexagons when light hits it at an angle.

Why does JJ Abrams like to use the lens flare effect often in his films?

The answer to this question may be that it gives the film a more “cinematic” or “cachet” effect. In any event, there are many filmmakers who use this effect in their movies and enjoy the classic Hollywood feel it creates.

Is it normal to get significant lens flare with a 50mm f 1 8 prime lens?

Almost all prime lenses are susceptible to produce some lens flare, but you should not be seeing this type of significant lens flare. It may be possible that your camera is picking up light near the corner of the frame- which can cause the phenomenon in certain conditions.

What is the point of the lens flares in modern media?

Many people see the lens flares as a sign of a stylistic effect. Others believe that it has to do with the camera picking up light near the corner of the frame. As modern media has become more reliant on CGI, one of the most noticeable effects is lens flares. They are essentially a way for cinematographers to show that an object or character in their shot was inserted through computer graphics and not captured naturally with film cameras. The problem arises when these types of shots have been overused by directors who want viewers to realize something’s fake but without properly communicating what it actually means; as audiences already know characters were created in computers because they’re watching them play out on screen so why should there be any doubt?

Why is the lens flare option grayed out in Photoshop?

The lens flare option is grayed out in Photoshop to ensure that the user is not adding a lens flare inappropriately. To create a lens flare, you need to place any object in front of the light source or use the brush tool for creating a brushed effect. This is typically not a great idea for a professional photograph.

Lens flare can be created in an artistic fashion, but it should not interfere with the subject of your photo or distract from its beauty. This option is grayed out to prevent amateur photographers from distorting their images and ruining them by adding lens flares where they are unwanted. Most professionals do not want any part of their scene to appear distorted unless that was the effect they were going for because this will make all other photos look less attractive and one-dimensional.

Are lens flares always spherical?

The answer to this question is they are not always spherical; they can often be elliptical. In fact, it is possible to create any shape of flare in post-production.

Is lens flare a bad thing?

While some people may see this as an unwanted effect on their photos and video footage, others embrace its aesthetic quality and even use it on purpose for artistic reasons. Lens flares are often used creatively by filmmakers (e.g., J.J Abrams).There can also be practical purposes behind using them; such as when needing to fill shadows or lighting up dark areas within the image frame itself which would otherwise cause issues with exposure levels if done so directly through camera settings alone without including a lens flare. For example, silhouetting someone against bright light outside could produce lens flares that make your subject stand out more rather than be lost in the shadows.

Where do I place lens flare within an image?

In your digital imaging software, you can easily achieve this by overlaying a lens flare and customizing its placement, direction, size & opacity (intensity). For example; editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop make it possible to not only edit individual flares but also multiple ones at once simply by using layers. Layers allow you to stack on top of each other so there is no limit when it comes to how many shapes or effects that you want in order to create something unique for your images/videos. This allows more control over what kind of customized look works best with any given photo/video project regardless if they are simple or complex in nature.

How to add lens flare effect in Photoshop?

You can add a lens flare effect in many ways. A quick way to do so is to use the Lens Flare filter found under the Other section of Photoshop’s Filters menu.

Here are some other ways that you can add lens flares:

Open a photo and duplicate it (Ctrl+D). Then, flip it horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal). Set the top layer to Overlay (press Ctrl + Alt + O) then—assuming your project has two layers—set the bottom layer to Multiply (Ctrl + Alt + M). Next, select the upper layer, then go to Filter > Lens Flare.

Select “Custom”, then in the “Enter Custom Lens Flare” window that pops up, select “star shape” and choose the size you want.

Now your photo has a cool lens flare effect! Click OK when done.

You can also play around with other options in Photoshop’s Lens Flare filter—like changing the colors of flares or adding more light effects to give it a unique look.

What is the best way to avoid lens flare if you can t use your lens hood due to using filters?

Some filters can cause problems with the light getting into your camera. If you use a filter, and can’t use a lens hood due to the lens flares created from the filter, it’s best to try using lens flare reducers. There are specific lens flare reducers that are made for certain lenses, so make sure you know what type of lenses you have before purchasing one.

There are also some people who will argue that they’ve managed to take great pictures without any kind of lens hood or even filter, but this is not always possible.


When you’re looking for a new camera, it can be difficult to find the perfect one. But if you keep an eye out for lens flare specs then your decision might become easier. Lens flare is something that affects nearly all cameras and causes unwanted light in photos. In some cases this may not be such a big deal but when it occurs at prominent times like sunrise or sunset, it can ruin important shots. If you plan on taking pictures of landscapes with trees against the sun, make sure your camera has low-light capabilities so your shot doesn’t turn into disaster because of lens flare!