Professional photographers and videographers learn to avoid the traps of amateur shooting, such as lens flare. For paranormal photographers, lens flare can provide anomalies that not only can damage evidence but ruin a serious investigation. Why? The interpretation may adversely affect the reveal and final findings.
Lens flare happens when direct light hits a lens (known as non-image forming light enters though the lens and hits the camera’s sensors) and an array of anomalies is found on the product (be it from photography or film). In other words, a bright light source (the sun is a great example) shines into the camera lens and affects the picture presented. Lens flare can also cause glare or unwanted artifacts of light which can appear in a polygonal shape. The shape is dependent on the shape of the lens diaphragm.
There are two types of flare. The first is specular flare where you will see circular blobs (some call them orbs) or streaks of light in the photo. The second is veiling flare which reduces the contrast between the dark and the light. This affects shadows, sharpness and definition and can lead to mystery figures (One can use auto-level or auto-contrast functions in the Photoshop application for regular photos, but for paranormal investigators – beware! Do not manipulate your images and offer them as evidence.
It is important to note that lens flare never useful for paranormal investigators, but it can be and is used creatively by amateur and professional photographers.
How to AVOID lens flare:
1) Do not allow sunlight, streetlights or any other direct source of light to hit the front element of your lens. Remember flare is caused by light reflection internally through the elements of an optical lens.
2) Wide-angle lenses are more prone to flare than longer focal lengths
3) Flare can be reduced or eliminated using a lens hood or shade. Some lens will come with a hood. Check your instruction manual to see what works best with your lens. The hood works simply by casting a shadow over the front element of the lens. It also will protect your lens from chips and scratches.
4) When using a tri-pod, you can use your hand or cardboard for shade.
5) Prime lenses are more resistant to flares than zooms. With fewer elements there is a lesser chance of flare.
But wait … there is always more … to learn. Professional photographer Bob Shell emphasizes the use of a lens hood. He points out that flare is an optical phenomena that can turn a great surprise into a daunting disappointment. You may not know if you have a lens flare problem until the photo is processed or until you get the digital up on your monitor. Shell points to another problem: every lens surface where lens meets air will reflect a certain amount of light. While modern lenses have coating to reduce this reflection, flare is still a concern. For those with zoom lenses, check the lens specifications. The higher the numbers, the better chance of lens flare. Do not use filters, says Shell, as they often make the flare worse. His belief is that there is no excuse for a good lens hood — for protection and flare reduction.
When you are not paranormal investigating, experiment with you camera. Artistic photographers suggest these tips for ACHIEVING lens flare:
1) Look into the sun! Aim toward the light source, use the spot metering mode and appropriate exposure. Unless you want to achieve a silhouette pose, set your camera to manual and adjust the exposure. This can help you achieve mystical rays or beams for a pretty picture.
2) Flash it! Flashes provide needed light for a dark scene – through flash reflection you can get a soft feel to a photo and get a nice effect from the flash itself. Remember to aim a bit away from the subjects to the right, left or above.
3) Open up! Your aperture blades cause the shape of your flare. The better the flare, the more lush and smooth the product will be. Open it up all the way, and the blades allow all the light in.
4) Focus first! In trying to achieve lens flare, you need the right point of focus. Many professionals offer three choices:
a) Control it yourself and go manual.
b) The focal lock allows you to lock your focus without direct light, and then take the shot.
c) Narrow down your choices: a narrow aperture and this adds depth to your field.
5) Angle it! You want the light to pass across your photo to get a cool effect. Try one side, then the other. Experiment!
Gibson, Andrew S. How to prevent lens flare. Retrieved from digital-photography-school.com/how-to-prevent-lens-flare/
Lens flare – 30 day challenge. Retrieved December 16, 2015 fromexpertphotography.com/lens-flare-30-day-photography-challen…
Shell, Bob. Lens flare: what is it and how do you prevent it? Retrieved December 15, 2015 from
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