Creative Lighting: Lens Flare

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Creative Lighting: Lens Flare

Lens Flare; you either love it or hate it and today is our first blog entry looking at creative lighting techniques that explores this particular one.

Lens flare is created when light is aimed directly into the lens of the camera. Most photographers and filmmakers will first come across this when shooting in daylight when they have no other choice than to shoot towards the sun. It is often a pain (unless you are deliberately going for it) though artificial lens flare is becoming more and more en trend both in photography and filmmaking. If you’ve seen a Michael Bay film, you know what we’re talking about.

In the right situation we have to say that we quite like a bit of lens flare though that may be because we like getting as much shot in camera as possible and though we aren’t using the sun to achieve this, a studio light and a set of gels can do the trick nicely. So if we know that we want a nice haze of colour sweeping across the image or some gorgeous bokeh in the final photo, we’d rather do it in camera than rely on post. Of course it doesn’t hurt to take a clean image as back-up which is often what we will do, but by and large if we can do it in the camera, we will. So long as it’s not used excessively and in inappropriate contexts, creative lens flare can also create a bit of interest to an otherwise dull scene, but then again that’s the point of most lighting isn’t it?


Getting the desired effect from lens flare can be a little hit and miss and you will need to experiment with the angle of incidence your light is creating with the lens as well as the output levels in comparison to your other lights. The images above demonstrate how a slight change in your set-up can create two very different results; one creating a beautiful bit of bokeh, an another giving the image a colourful haze.

But despite everything we say about getting it right in camera and not relying on post production, sometimes it is unavoidable! For instance, our chief photographer, Aimee Spinks, recently provided the poster photography for the upcoming family film, ‘Guy.’

With a very clear vision of what he wanted, director, Alexander Reid, envisioned his principal cast cresting a hill with a beautiful sun setting across the horizon. Unfortunately on the day of the shoot, instead of a glorious sun set, the team were faced with a dull grey sky that was simply not going to give them the look they needed.

Knowing that a sunset would have to be composited into the shot in post production, photographer Aimee knew that this would be difficult to make look realistic without the cast backlit with a warm glow to emulate the missing sun. In order to make life in post production easier, Aimee backlit the cast with a single flash head with an orange gel placed over the top to bathe them in an artificial sun. After that it was only a matter of finding the right stock image to use as the sun set and compositing the two together.

Check out the before and after shots below:



Ok, so a little off track as this is an example of back-lighting rather than lens flare, however Aimee was able to use this same light and gel combo to experiment with a variation on another shot which incidentally formed one of the film’s teaser posters. This image will actually feature in an upcoming blog entry about how the same scene can be shot with various different lighting set-ups to create entirely different effects so check back for that one soon!



So there you have it, a very quick entry looking at some of the fun and practical in-camera effects you can achieve by turning the light on the camera instead of just worrying about the light falling on the subject!


If you want to see how we can bring a bit of flair (see what we did there?) to your photographic needs, just GIVE US A SHOUT!



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