If there’s one thing our hearts pitter-patter for in photos, it’s dreamy light! Every time we’re shooting, we’re looking for opportunities to backlight our couples, so that a glowy rim of light appears around them. We achieve this by positioning our clients with their backs to the sun. The potential challenge with this positioning is that it means our lenses will be facing directly into the sun. When the sun hits the lens directly, it creates lens flare which can wash out the image, and cut out the vibrant color we love. There are photographers who intentionally find opportunities for lens flare, and it can be absolutely stunning when executed the right way, but for us, it just doesn’t fit in with our clean, crisp, colorful style most of the time. So, today, we’re sharing five ways we avoid lens flare and get those crisp, colorful images in the dreamy light we love!
1. Use a Lens Hood
This is the most common way to combat lens flare. That’s what lens hoods were created for! A lens hood creates a shield around your lens, and in the right position, can prevent the sun from ever hitting directly onto the lens. We bring lens hoods with us to every engagement and wedding, and they help a ton! Even though we’re Canon enthusiasts, we use the Vello brand for our lens hoods because they’re less expensive and still do the trick! Sometimes lens hoods aren’t big enough or angled in the right way and the sun still gets to our lens, so we have four other ways to work through that situation when a lens hood just won’t cut it.
2. Use a Reflector
This is NOT what reflectors were made for, but in those make-it-work moments, we’re willing to do just about anything to get the look we want, even if it means looking a little silly! When the sun is strong, directly hitting the camera, and a lens hood can’t get the job done, one of us will stop shooting, grab a reflector and hold it flat above the other shooter’s head at an angle that will cast a full shadow on the lens. The beauty of a reflector is that it’s BIG! When the sun is big and intense, the reflector is big enough to shield the entire lens. Amy is a bit height-challenged, so a lot of times, if she’s holding a reflector for Jordan to cut lens flare, her arms are fully extended above her head and she often has to stand on her tip-toes to get the right angle. It looks ridiculous, but it’s totally worth the result!
3. Use Your Hand
When we’re in a bind, and we’re stuck without a lens hood or someone to shield the light for us, we use our hand! Yep! Our hand! The cheapest tool we have! We cup it around the top of the lens, and adjust the shape and angle of our hand until the lens flare disappears! We’ve even started doing this with our iPhones, which are notoriously bad at handling backlighting!
4. Use an Environmental Element
Another way we avoid lens flare is by positioning the clients in a way that the sun hits something else before it hits their back. It could be a column, the edge of a wall, a tree, a saguaro (that’s a cactus for all of you who live in a place with seasons!) or anything else that you can tuck the sun behind.
5. Shuffle Those Feet
This is the trick we use the most! The photographer shuffle! When the sun is hitting our lens directly, we’ll just do a little jig! We’ll shuffle our feet around our clients like we’re making a horseshoe pattern around them. When we shuffle, we keep our eye in the viewfinder the entire time until the flare disappears. We can normally find the perfect spot within a few seconds, and then start firing away!
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