Lens Flare: The Ultimate Guide to Lens Flare Photography

Flare lights such as light from the sun or any other light source affect the quality of your photography. Light plays a critical role in photography and understanding how to optimize it defines your career as a photographer and as a graphic designer. While flares can be mostly accidental, some photographers add them intentionally to enhance their artistry.

What is lens flare?

A lens flare happens when your camera lens is hit by a bright source of light such as the sun or any other artificial source of light. Bright light sources, when they hit your camera lens, subsequently hit the digital sensor and the camera film. In most instances, lens flare results in the creation of unwanted images and consequently lowers the photograph's contrast.

Lens flares can take many forms, including one or all polygonal shapes, an overall washed-out look, or bright streaks. Since most camera lenses are made of multiple lens elements, lens flare is caused by unwanted light, which doesn't refract directly alongside the intended path. It instead, reflects internally on the lens elements, back and forth, before it reaches the digital sensor or the film.

Is lens flare bad for your photography?

Lens flare happens due to unwanted reflections of light bouncing off the different lens elements, that is, the sensor, and the diaphragm of your camera lens. This results in the creation of unwanted objects in your photography, degrading the quality of your images.

While the lens flare effect is mostly unwanted, it is still useful as the flare lights create circles, starbursts, haze, or rings. This effect adds a feeling of warmth and softness to your backlit portraits, helps you achieve a natural cinematic effect, and also defines your landscape shots.

How to get lens flare in photography

There are several tips and tricks in which you can get lens flare photography.

  1. By shooting a bright light source directly. This can be studio light or sunlight and making sure that the light enters the camera lens.
  2. By shooting starbursts to capture either sunset or sunrise. This happens when you use varying focal lengths and familiarize yourself with the effects of the size of the rays. Shooting starbursts helps you find out what lens lengths are suitable for a given occasion.
  3. Experimenting lens focus. This is achieved when you manually focus your camera lens or when you use a focus lock. Once you have a lot of light, you shoot with a narrow aperture, which then allows you to have a deeper depth of focus.
  4. By putting your object in front of a bright light source.
  5. Getting rid of the hood on the camera lens. The hood protects images from flares and removing it during shooting brings a golden lens flare.
  6. Blocking the light source partially. Whether you are shooting outdoors or indoors, you can bring the flare effect by partially blocking the light source.
  7. By picking the proper lens. To achieve lens flare images with streaks, tear-shaped blobs, or light orbs, you will need to use wide-angled lenses.

How to mimic lens flare through digital photo editing

While you can use the tricks above to achieve lens flare, you can make the process a lot easier by using Corel PHOTO-PAINT photo editing software.

  1. Launch Corel PHOTO-PAINT
  2. Open your image
  3. Click effects or lens flare
  4. Go to the flares tab and set the properties you want
  5. Click the rays tab while you set the properties that you want
  6. Create a mask of an object
  7. Apply the desired effect
  8. Save the file


Every good photographer knows the magic that lens flare brings to images and how it brings the truest and most natural forms of an image. If you are looking to add an artistic element to your photography, try Corel PHOTO-PAINT today and see how easy it is to add flare to your images.

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