Thorsten von Overgaard's Photography Website
  Get Newsletter & Free eBook  

 
 
The Story Behind That Picture - 204
Subscribe for full access. It's free.           thorstenovergaard on Instagram Thosten von Overgaard on Facebook Thorsten von Overgaard on Twitter Thorsten von Overgaard on LinkedIn Thorsten von Overgaard on Flickr Thorsten Overgaard on YouTube Thorsten Overgaard video on Vimeo Thorsten von Overgaard on Leica Fotopark Thorsten von Overgaard on 500px  
leica.overgaard.dk    
 
   
 
   

The Story Behind That Picture: "What is Lens Flare?"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. June 4, 2019. Updated September 4,2019

 

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Lens flare is when a strong light source make light bounce back and forth inside the surfaces of the optical elements in a lens.

I think lens flare is beautiful, and I always search for it in a lens. It's one of the first things I test a new lens for: "How does it play with the light?". I find that how a lens deals with flare is a very good indication of how it works with capturing the light overall. In modern lenses it's a no-no, it can be very hard to provoke.

 

Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 lens flare. © Thorsten Overgaard.
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 lens flare. © Thorsten Overgaard.

 

Lens flare used to be a given in lenses, just like driving a car and a truck comes up from behind and get you strong headlights into you eyes via the rear view mirror. Then lens designers worked a lot on this and made lens designs that would suppress internal reflections; both the flare as well as other unwanted reflections that would cause the photo to 'milk out' and loose contrast and overall bleach the colors.

Mainly lens designers use coating of the surfaces, which is almost like an invisible paint or a thin layer of foil that grabs the reflections and kill them. Lens coatings are applied for this, but also to block specific color rays so as to get for example better skin tones.

 

 

Modern lens: Sunlight creating (fairly suppressed) flare in the bottom right quadrant of the image. In an older lens there would be flare all over this photo.

  The camera moved slightly and the lens flare is completely gone. Leica 75mm Noctilux f/1.25.
 

 

To get lens flare, you usually have to find some older lenses without coatings. The good thing is that older lenses are usually less expensive, but not always. Some of the lenses I've used a lot to get lens flare is the Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II 'Rigid' from the 1960's ($500 - $2000 second-hand) and the Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4 from the 1980's ($3,000 - $4,000 second-hand). The Leica Noctilux f/1.0 and f/0.95 is also good at making lens flare ($4,000 - $10,500).

The ideal is a lens that can capture light really well, but also has lens flare. So it can't be a cheap plastic lens. But you can do a lot by having beautiful light on the subject. Most lenses can capture a photo well if the light is great. Clarity, definition of colors, apparent sharpness and detail all comes first and foremost from having great light on the subject. The flare then comes when you provoke a burst of light; and either the lens collapses or it can handle it. In other words, an excellent older lens is the ideal one for high quality flare.

 

How to provoke lens flare

You have to have a strong light source like the sun directly, or the sun peaking through leaves of a tree, or a strong reflection of the sun in a window somewhere. It can also be a street light, the front light of a car, or a spotlight in the background or above.

The best is a 'hidden' light source that peaks through from an edge. It can be in the frame, but often it is outside the frame you see in the camera, or in the very sides of the visible image frame, but obviously hitting the lens front surface strong enough to send reflections through it.

 

How to capture lens flare

Once you learn to play with lens flare, you get a feeling for it. You get an idea what will happen, and how much light is needed. How it moves and then suddenly goes away.

You may have the sun behind a person, and you take a series of photos where you move slightly to the side. The result will be some photos without any flare (the light source behind the person), then some photos with gradually increasing flare (the light source starts peaking out from behind the person), to some photos that are milked out completely (the light source is fully exposed to the lens and overtakes the photos with overwhelming light; or basically overexposure of the frame).

 

   
Too little   About right: 50mm Summicron II   Too much overflow
   
Too little   About right   Too much overflow

 

You are literally working on the edge, so you can't expect to just take on photo and get it. You have to work it.

En electronic viewfinder if obviously a good tool to see and capture lens flare, but you still have to experiment a bit as the flare moves and changes so quickly with each little movement of the lens that you have to be fast on the trigger (or shoot in small bursts as you move the camera slightly).

 

The sun must be in front of the camera

Obviously, the sun or the strong light source has to be in front of the camera and not behind. It has to be so much in the front that it can hit the lens front and send strong light rays into the lens and create the desired reflections.

 

What technology gave us, and what technology took from us

Modern lens design gave us lenses that suppress lens flare, and then digital editing technology gave us software to create fake lens flare. Isn't that ironic?

 

This is actual real lens flare using the Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8 Version I.
This is actual real lens flare using the Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8 Version I.

 

Lens flare in movies

I love movies and how big productions like Star Trek and Mission Impossible use lens flare as part of the visual expression. Sometimes they pick lenses that can create lens flare, at other times they create the lens flare digitally.

 

Lens flare in the movie, The Graduate (1967).
Lens flare in the movie, The Graduate (1967).

Lens flare in Mission Impossible Fallout (2019)
Lens flare in Mission Impossible Fallout (2019)

Lens Flare in Star Trek (2013). JJ Abrams famously said, "I know there's too much lens flare ... I just love it so much. But I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery (ha ha)" 
Lens Flare in Star Trek (2013). J.J. Abrams.

 

Lens flare addict

J. J. Abrams is one director who uses so much lens flare that even his wife has pointed out she can't see what's happening in the frame. He famously said, "I know there's too much lens flare ... I just love it so much. But I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery (ha ha)." 

Not much chance that he will tone down the lens flare though.

 


The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 lens can display some funky flares.



Lens flare suppression in the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
     

Some spark in the Leica 50mm Noctilux f/0.95.
     

A little bit of overflow and flare with the Leica 50mm Noctilux f/0.95.
 
The Leica 50mm Noctilux f/0.95 handles the shadow details well ... and give a flare in bonus!
     

When provoked with backlight, the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0can create some sparkling light, even a little overflow (top left corner) but it never allow for classic flare.

 

What lens to use

The lenses I mentioned above may be a little on the expensive side. But any good old Nikkor or other lens from the 1970's or earlier can do the job, and even some modern 'cheap' lenses like the 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 ($398 from new) are designed in a way so they don't suppress flare.

A 'low light' lens like a f/1.0, f/1.4 or f/2.0 is usually the best to use. It has a large surface of glass in the front that can pick up 'unwanted light sources' and throw them back and forth between the lens elements. If you stop down the lens from for example f/1.4 to f/2.0 you may still have flares, but they will mostly change shape from blurry round flares to 'stop sign' shapes; smaller and with edges around them.

 

The Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8 Version I can produce great flare. Large front surface to pick up strong light from the edges, and an old design with none or little coating.
The Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8 Version I can produce great flare. Large front surface to pick up strong light from the edges, and an old design with none or little coating.

 

Optical effect outside a lens

Light traveling through narrow spaces, or being baunched or reflected off odd surfaces, tend to also create a flare-like effect that can be used.


Light narrowed through a tree's leaves tend to create optical effects like flare.

 

Lens flare in the rain

Some times you get so lucky as to have a bit of rain on the front glass of the lens. Not enough to disturb the image, but enough to capture some odd light that becomes funny flares due to the raindrops (which are somewhat optic elements in themself).

 


Heavy rain in Clearwater, Florida.

 

Definition of lens flare

Flare = Burst of light. Internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. Mostly, flare has a characteristic "space travel" look to it, making it cool. Particularly in older lenses with less or no coating of the glass surfaces to suppress this, it can be a really cool effect. In newer lens designs, the coatings and overall design try to suppress flare and any reflections to a degree, so that there is seldom any flare to be picked up (moving the lens to pick up a strong sunbeam), but instead a "milking out" (or "ghosting") of a circular area of the frame; meaning simply overexposed without any flare-looking flares.

 

More to come...

I hope you enjoyed today's Story Behind That Picture. As always, feel free to email me with questions, ideas and suggestions.

 

             
 

Buy the new eBook
"Composition in Photography"
by Thorsten von Overgaard

 
             
 

Composition in Photography
- The Photographer as Storyteller

This book will inspire your photographic eye and make you wonder about all the possibilities you can now see.

In this exciting new book Thorsten Overgaard expands and simplifies the subject of composition. It's elevated from geometric patterns to actual storytelling by practical use of space, rhythm, time, colors, emotions and intuition in your photography.

- The Basics of Composition.
- Composition in the Third Dimension.
- Picture Stories.
- Accenturating with Light.
- Photograph as a Melody.
- Which lens are you?
- Fear of sharpness?.
- Vanishing Point.
- The most important
element of composition

- What is the unknown secret
why it is you mostly can't get
the Rule of Thirds to work?

- How does a camera see
differently than the eye?

- What does quantum physics and
photography have in common?

- What's the greatest adventure you can
set out on in photography these days?
- A Sense of Geometry.

Only $398.00.
Order now. Instant delivery.

864 pages. 550 Illustrations.

 

"It’s your best work so far"

"I’m being gently led"

" I love this book!!!"

Compisition in Photography

"The book is incredible"'

"It’s like therapy for the human spirit."

"Beautiful and inspiring"

"Full of practical advice
and shared experience"

'I love how hands-on and
laid back Thorsten's witting style is"

"Inspiring"

"Intense and thought-provoking"

 
  Add to Cart View Cart   100% satisfaction of money back.  
             

 

Thorsten Overgaard
#1921-0519


 


   
   

 

 
 

 

 

   
   
   

 

Thorsten von Overgaard
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M digital cameras:   Leica L digital cameras:
Leica M11   Leica SL
Leica M10   Leica SL2
Leica M10-P   Leica SL2-S
Leica M10-R   Panasonic Lumix S1R
Leica M10-D   Leica TL2
Leica M10 Monochrom   Leica CL
Leica M9 and Leica M-E   Leica L-Mount lenses
Leica M9-P   Leica R digital cameras:
Leica M9 Monochrom   Leica R8/R9/DMR
Leica M240   Small Leica mirrorless digital cameras:
Leica M246 Monochrom   Leica D-Lux
Leica MD-262 and Leica M60   Leica C-Lux
    Leica V-Lux
Leica M film cameras:   Leica Q2 / Leica Q2 Monochrom
Leica M6   Leica Q
Leica M4   Leica Digilux 3
    Leica Digilux 2
Leica M lenses:   Leica Digilux 1
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica Digilux
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4    
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R film cameras:
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R8 / R9
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica R3 electronic
Leica 35mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL / SLmot
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 FLE    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0   Leica compact film cameras:
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.2   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
7artisans 50mm f/1.1   Leica CM 35mm film camera
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm Elmar-M f/2.8 collapsible   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
7artisans 75mm f/1.25   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 80mm Summilux-R f/1.4
Leica 90mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.5   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 180mm R lenses
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 250mm Telyt-R f/4.0
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz Cine lenses:   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
Leica Cine lenses from Leitz Cine Wetzlar    
    Leica S digital medium format:
History and overview:   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica History   Leica S2
Leica Definitions   Leica S
Leica Lens Compendium    
Leica Camera Compendium   "Magic of Light" 4K Television Channel
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   Thorsten von Overgaard YouTube Channel
     
Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Which Computer for Photographers?   Lightroom Survival Kit (Classic)
What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers   Lightroom Presets by Overgaard
Synchronizing Large Photo Archive with iPhone   Lightroom Brushes by Overgaard
Quality of Light   Capture One Software
Lightmeters   Capture One Survival Kit
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
White Balance & WhiBal   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Film in Digital Age   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
All You Need is Love   "Composition in Photography" eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
X-Rite   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
The Origin of Photography   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
    "Why do I Photograph?"
     
Leica Photographers:    
Ralph Gibson   Riccis Valladares
Henri Cartier-Bresson   Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
 
Douglas Herr   Milan Swolf
Vivian Maier   Jan Grarup
Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston   Richard Avedon
     
The Story Behind That Picture:   Learn with Thorsten Overgaard:
More than 250 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Leica M9 Masterclass (video course)
Thorsten Overgaard Workshop Schedule   Leica M10 Masterclass (video course)
    Leica M240 Masterclass (video course)
Leica Forums and Blogs:   Leica Q Masterclass (video course)
Leica M11 / M240 / M10 User Forum on Facebook   Leica Q2 Masterclass (video course)
Jono Slack   Leica TL2 Quick Start (video course)
Sean Reid Review (reviews)   Street Photography Masterclass (video course)
Heinz Richter's Leica Barnack Berek Blog   Adobe Photoshop Editing Masterclass
I-Shot-It photo competition   The Photoraphers Workflow Masterclass
    Adobe Lightroom Survival Kit 11
    Capture One Survival Kit 22
     
    Thorsten von Overgaard Academy Online
    Thorsten von Overgaard Free Online Masterclass
     
Connect with Thorsten Overgaard:   Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses
Thorsten Overgaard on Instagram   Overgaard One-on-One Training
Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List   Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing
Thorsten Overgaard on Facebook   Commision Thorsten Overgaard
 
 
The Von Overgaard Gallery Store:   Von Overgaard Ventilated lens shades:
Ventilated Shades "Always Wear A Camera"   Ventilated Shade for Current 35mm Summilux FLE
Camera Straps "Always Wear A Camera"   Ventilated Shade E46 for old Leica 35mm/1.4 lens
The Von M Camera Bag   Ventilated Shade for Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH
The Von L Camera Bag   Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
The Von Mini Messenger Walkabout Camera Bag   Ventilated Shade for 35mm Summicron-M ASPH
Desk Blotters 'Always Wear A Camera"   Ventilated Shade for older 35mm/f2 lenses
Sterling Silver Necklace   Ventilated Shade E39 for 50mm Summicron lenses
Software for Photography   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Signed Thorsten Overgaard Gallery Prints   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarit-M
Computer Shade for MacBook Pro   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Video Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade E49 for 75mm Summicron
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Home School Photography Extension Courses   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
    Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
    Ventilated Shade E60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated Shade for Leica Q and Leica Q2
 

 

 

Above: Lovely video about lens flare in movies by Phil Edwards of Vox.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani.
Photo: Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani.

Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish born multiple award-winning AP photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

You can follow him at his television channel magicoflight.tv and his on-line classroom at overgaard.com

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 

 





 


Also visit:

Overgaard Photography Workshops
Books by Thorsten Overgaard
Street Photography Masterclass Video
Adobe Photoshop Editing Masterclass
Adobe Lightroom Survival Kit 11
Lightroom Presets by Overgaard
Lightroom Brushes by Overgaard
Capture One Software download
Capture One Survival Kit 22

Capture One Styles by Overgaard
Signed Original Prints by von Overgaard

Von Overgaard Gallery Store
Ventilated Shades by Overgaaard
Leather Camera Straps
Camea Bags
Calfskin Camera Pouches
Leather Writing Pads
Sterling Silver Camera Necklace

Leica Definitions
Leica History
Leica Lens Compendium
Leica Camera Compendium
Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon f/3.4
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4

Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 35mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0

Leica 40mm Summicron-C f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
7artisans 50mm f/1.1
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25
7artisans 75mm f/1.25
Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 90mm Summilux f/1.5
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz Cine lenses
Leica L lenses

Leica M6

Leica M11
Leica M10
Leica M10-P

Leica M10-R
Leica M10-D
Leica M10 Monochrom
Leica M9, M9-P and Leica ME
Leica M9 Monochrom
Leica M 240
Leica M 240 for video
Leica M 262
Leica M-D 262

Leica M 246 Monochrom

Leica SL
Leica SL2
Leica SL2-S

Panasonic Lumix S1R
Leica R9 dSLR
Leica Q
Leica Q2
Leica Q2 Monochrom
Leica CL
Leica TL2
Leica Sofort
Leica S digital medium format
Leica X
Leica D-Lux

Leica C-Lux

Leica V-Lux

Leica Digilux

Leica Digilux 1

Leica Digilux 2
Leica Digilux Zoom

Leica Digilux 4.3

Leica Digilux 3

Light metering
White Balance for More Beauty
Color Meters

Screen Calibration
Which computer to get
Sync'ing photo archive to iPhone
The Story Behind That Picture
"On The Road With von Overgaard"

Von Overgaard Masterclasses:
M10 / M9 / M240 / Q / Q2 / TL2 /

 

 

Overgaard Photo Workshops

 

 

 

     
Buy eBooks by
Thorsten Overgaard
     
"A Little Book on Photography"   "A Little Book on Photography"
Add to Cart  

Add to Cart

     
"The Leica Q Know-All eBook"  
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     
"Finding the Magic of Light"   "Composition in Photography - The Photographer as Storyteller"
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     
"The Freedom of Photographic Expression"   "The Moment of Emptional Impact"
Add to Cart  

Add to Cart

     

The Portrait Book
How to Make People Beautifu
    Add to Cart
     

Preorder: The Noctilux Masterclass
    Add to Cart
     
Extension Courses
     
The New Photography Extension Course"   "New Inspiration Extension Course"
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     

Lightroom
Survival Kit 11
 


Workflow
Masterclass

Add to Cart  

Add to Cart

     
Video Classes
     

eBook
+Video

This is Street Photography

  Street Photo
Masterclass

Add to Cart

  Add to Cart
     


Leica Q2
Masterclass

  "Leica Q Video Masterclass"
Leica Q
Masterclass

Add to Cart

  Add to Cart
     
"Leica TL2 Quick-Start Video Course"
Leica TL2
Quick-Start
Video Course
  "Leica Q Video Masterclass"
Preorder:
Leica M9
Masterclass
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     
"Leica M10 Video Masterclass"   "Leica M 240 Video Masterclass"
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     
Lightroom Presets
     
Lightroom Presets Leica M10   Lightroom Presets Leica M9
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     
Lightroom Presets Leica TL2   Lightroom Presets Leica Q
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     
Lightroom Dutch Painters Presets by Thorsten Overgaard   Leica Presets for Lightroom by Thorsten Overgaard
Add to Cart   Add to Cart
     
"Hollywood Film Presets"
Add to Cart    
     
Hemingway Presets for Lightroom by Thorsten Overgaard
Add to Cart    
     

201 Lightroom Presets
+ 4 Export Presets
Add to Cart    
     
Capture One Styles:
     
"Capture One Pro Survival Kit"
Capture One
Survival Kit 22
  Leica Styles for Capture One by Thorsten Overgaard
Leica Styles for
Capture One
  Add to Cart
     

17 Capture One Styles
Add to Cart    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish born multiple award-winning AP photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

You can follow him at his television channel magicoflight.tv and his on-line classroom at overgaard.com

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 
           
  · © Copyright 1996-2022 · Thorsten von Overgaard


 

© 1996 - 2022 Thorsten Overgaard. All rights reserved.

 

Web Analytics