Do you have a flare problem? I’m not talking about the JJ Abrams Star Trek over-the-top creative use of it, I’m talking about those times that it’s killing the richness and saturation of your photographs. You know it can do that, right?
Lens flare is caused anytime light is falling directly on the lens. You don’t have to be pointing directly at the sun to cause it…It can happen even when the light source is outside your frame. When any bright light is hitting your lens, it causes all kinds of stray reflections that bounce around inside your lens and ruin contrast and saturation.
Camera phones are particularly prone to it. Look at this pair of photographs. The first picture was taken with no shading on the lens. The sun is outside the frame towards the upper left. The contrast and saturation have been degraded significantly from the real live view I saw with the naked eye.
I noticed the flare on the screen, so I made a second picture where I used my hand as a shade to stop sunlight from falling on the lens.
As you can see, the results are dramatic. The shaded photo shows a significant increase in contrast and saturation, both in the red leaves and the background, and shows the scene the way I intended.
Using a lens shade on your camera will help avoid flare, but the best way to avoid it is to know what it looks like through your viewfinder so that you can fix it anytime it appears. It’s just one of the many things to be aware of every time you are making a photograph.
Rich Seiling is a pioneer of Fine Art Printmaking, having worked on thousands of prints for leading photographers.