Preventing Lens Flares

Sun spots, also known as lens flares, can make or break a picture. In most cases, photographers are happy to create an artificial flare using Photoshop, rather than risking it with sunlight. The thing is, directing the lens toward the sun can be damaging to your eyes and it could possibly blot your image. Of course, you can use Photoshop to minimize or even remove the flare, but it’s best to avoid it while shooting. Also, even if there is a flare, you can use it in such a way so that it complements the picture you’re taking. Here are some surefire ways of achieving that in just a few steps. Let’s go!

Special Lenses

First things first: Technology has improved so much that things are only getting more convenient with each passing day. Today, there are lenses specifically coated with a filter that blocks the sun’s rays, which then prevents a lens flare. If you have money to burn, you may want to look into getting a professional lens like that.


Poor quality filters can sometimes be the reason for lens flares. Therefore, if you’re really investing in good camera equipment and accessories, ensure that you have the best. Even a small amount of penny pinching could cost you a lot. You could also use a star filter for some great effects. Not only does that hide the flare, but it also gives you a great output.

Crop It Out

It sometimes pays to shoot a picture up close and personal. That becomes even more critical when you have to shield your lens from sunlight. If the sunlight is unavoidable, you could zoom in on your subject until most of the flare goes out of the frame or where it doesn’t distract the viewer from the subject.

Angle It Well

At other times, the best way to avoid lens flares is to hide the sun behind trees and so on. That’s what we call changing the angle of the scene. Not only will you be able to shoot without the flare staring you in the eye (and occupying your frame), but it also makes the picture look more artistic. You can achieve that by either changing the location of your subject or trying a new angle (bottom up, top bottom or sideways). Just do whatever it takes to avoid the flare. If that means using elements within your image to block it, so be it! Those could be trees, bushes, buildings, peoples’ heads or other objects that not only block the light, but also add a certain something to the beauty of the image.

Make It Part of Your Subject

When the flare is unavoidable, make it look like part of your subject. To begin, frame your subject differently. For example, if the flare is seen just behind the subject’s head, it could give the impression of a halo, which could make for a pretty cool photo!

Shield Your Lens

The easiest way to avoid flares is to use a lens hood. Most professional cameras offer you the chance to attach a lens hood to its body. They come in all shapes and sizes and offer you a lot of room for picking and choosing. The hoods block direct sunlight and they allow indirect sunlight into the camera. Not only does that block the flare, but it also enhances the general look and feel of your pictures. After all, no photograph looks good without natural lighting. The hoods are bulky and can be a bit stressful, but if your main subject has the sun in your frame, it’s best to use them for a greater effect.

Use Your Hands

If you prefer to travel light, you could use your hands for special effects as well. However, if you’re using a single reflex camera that uses wide angle focal lengths, be sure your hand isn’t part of the frame. The best way to test that is to take a preliminary shot, check the result and then go ahead with the actual shooting.

Have fun with this one!

~ Zahid H. Javali