For many photographers, novices and experts alike, lens flare is an ever present problem. Trying to take a wide angle shot during a sunny day is an exercise in patience, as the photographer will often find an otherwise perfect photo ruined by lens flare. It’s hard to avoid, and even harder to fix.
While some photographers and filmmakers use these intentionally to create a unique effect, most of the time they are simply eyesores. Here’s how you can deal with them.
1. Get a lens hood – You should be using a lens hood whenever you can, as it prevents light from hitting the lens. This results in fewer flares, richer colors, and deeper contrast. Furthermore, they also protect your lens from damage, though how effective it is depends greatly on the type and length of the hood.
Pretty much all lenses come with manufacturer’s instructions that recommend what hood would work best. If you’re on a budget, you can use your hand or something else to shield the lens, but make sure that it doesn’t get into the shot.
2. Use different lenses – Prime lenses are better than zoom lenses when it comes to avoiding lens flare, since there are fewer elements for the light to reflect and scatter off of. This isn’t always feasible, but it is a handy trick to know at times. DSLRPros also suggests using lenses with nano surface coating, as this greatly reduces ghost and flare from your shots.
3. Clean your lenses regularly – You should be doing this anyway, even without taking lens flare into account, but it really does help a lot. Properly cleaning your lens is an important part of your camera maintenance routine, and it will help reduce lens flare by removing smudges and dirt.
4. Try editing them out – Got a great shot that lens flare ruined? Don’t worry, it’s not impossible to salvage it. Plenty of guides exist that teach you the step-by-step on how to remove lens flare using image editing software, such as Photoshop. They are very easy to follow, even if you are unfamiliar with these programs.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through the blending technique. Simply take a normal picture, lens flare and all, and then another with your finger obscuring the sun. Afterwards, blend these two to create the final image.
Of course, editing is additional work for you, so this should be your last resort. It might be fine every now and then, but having to remove lens flare from every good photo you take is going to be exhausting.