Friday, August 9, 2013

Adding soft flare to a photograph

Used to be that flare was easy to induce simply by including any light source behind your subject. Then came multi-coated lenses whose primary goal is to eliminate flare. So for those of use who like to apply some flare to a shot now and then to soften the image, the job has become more difficult.

Here is a simple technique for adding extensive softening flare when taking a photograph.

You simply shine a small flash light directly into your camera lens while taking the photograph. Hold the light very close, a couple of inches will do it, but varying the distance and position a bit can alter the effect.

I used this small LED light, but pretty much any light will do.

In this shot you can see that the light is held farther away from the lens. This lessens the flare and created a bright circular area where there had been some distracting detail. The girls face is relatively untouched except for being a bit brighter on the left side.
One thing I like about heavy flare is that is diminishes detail, blurs everything together, and you can alter the overall color to change the effect.

For this photo and the one below, the light was held very close to the front of the lens which left a flat, bright, hazy cast over the entire photo. It was easy to add a color cast -- blue in the example above, green below, and yellow on the bottom --  by altering the color balance later in Photoshop because the flare had already evened out the light by creating overall monochromatic haze.

All photos were taken on a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens.  A wide open aperture helped to decrease the depth of field and increase the flare further.

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