The Next Instagram Trend: Lens Flare (And How to Capture It)

Straight on the heels of the Bokeh comes the next Instagram photography trend: The Lens Flare. Blame it on J.J.Abrams and his obsessive use of them in popular movies, or the insatiable appetite of Singaporeans for pretty light effects, this trending effect is flipping the table on traditional photography  rules and ruling shots on social media.

1Lens flare: Adding magic to social media. @estkyc_ (#canonsg)

A lens flare happens when a strong source of light hits within the lens angle and scatters internally, creating an array of effects such as glows, light streaks, ghostly halos and reduced contrast and saturation. This sounds like a nightmare to some professionals, but given the right treatment and creative concept, it can give you photos that are magical and dreamy.

The light of Dakota will shine long after its been demolished. @panda_piglet (#canonsg)

Excited to add some, erm, extra flair? Here are some tips!

Remove the hood

Ah, the bane of technology advancements. Modern cameras and lenses are so well-built, it prevents light flare from happening. One of the things you can easily reverse this is to remove your lens hood. It does its job of blocking stray light so well that it’s also the first step to achieving your flare.

Adding on to the spectacle is this lens flare beside the chapel. @johnny_teh.o (#canonsg)

Nature certainly has some “flare”! @sg_fantasticbeasts (#canonsg)

Go direct

Your best chance of getting that flare is to face the light source directly, with your subject’s back facing it. Once it comes in at the front, you’ll start seeing the different distortions and spills happening, so the next step will be about controlling these feedback.

Face the sun and you’ll get that flare going in no time. @julian_cheong (#canonsg)

Don’t be afraid to head right at the light! @sammmsation (#canonsg)

Do the tilt shift

Depending on the composition, and whether the light source is within the frame, you will want to experiment with different angles so move around a lot, while keeping the light source frontal. As you achieve the desired angle, tilt the camera to finetune the amount of effect. Do take multiple shots as the dynamic nature of the flare will change quickly from snap to snap.

Once you have your subject and angle, tilt and move about to achieve the best effect. @fylserndneology (#canonsg)

Moving trees keep the flare effect dynamic so take more shots. @e_ccentric (#canonsg)

Play peek-a-boo

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. If the spill gets too much, block the source by pushing it out of the frame of the image, or using an object in the frame, such as your subject or a building or a sign. Let the source peek out slightly and you’ll start seeing the flare. As it sometimes can become too bright to see, just remember you can temporarily cover it with your free hand while you compose.

Adjust your subject to hide enough of the source to prevent washing out. @legendarydesiree (#canonsg)

Buildings make for great subjects and you can use them to control the light source. @notorioussquad (#canonsg)

Go manual

With all the light spilling in your camera will likely compensate and give you underexposed images. Go fully manual and do spot metering to get your subject correctly lit, unless you’re going for that silhouette look!

Don’t miss out on distinctive details by keeping manual control over exposure. @jushenlee (#canonsg)

Lend an air of dreaminess but keep your subject correctly exposed too. @aperturestreetphotography (#canonsg)

The great thing about lens flare is that the light source doesn’t only apply to the sun, but any strong light source as well – like those you find at concerts or stadiums. So have fun exploring and attacking those bright lights and use them at any time of the day to achieve your winning shot!

Get your lens flare even after sundown! @moodzpix (#canonsg)

First published: Canon EOS World

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