Friday, May 15, 2009

flare friday ~ feel the burn

 2 weeks back, Jackie asked me to write a tutorial on flare.  how to get it,  some tips, secrets, and how not to ruin your retinas trying.  (LOL)  anyone who has deliberately tried to shoot flare will totally get that.  looking straight at the sun with your eyes or your camera,  can just plain hurt.  i guess i am a glutton for the pain because once i accidentally got my first flare i was hooked!  there was no turning back.  eventually my obsession and love of the flare led me to start the flare friday group on flickr.  a place where all us lovers of light could add our flares.  a weekly inspirational pool of light.  it now has 585 members!  never did i expect that, and each friday you see everyone saying "happy ff"  or "HFF"  to each other,  that is just plain awesome!  makes me smile.  now we are still coming out of winter here,  yes it is spring but i am still finding it a bit harder to get my flares.   being new to photography,  i am purely guessing that since the suns rays are hitting the earth differently each season, this directly effects the amount of flare i achieve.  all i know is, in the summer it seemed much easier.  
  • my first tip has to be  do not be discouraged.  i truly feel  though i can find flare now, there still is a bit of magic and luck involved as well.  i kind of like that idea.  magic revealing itself to you in unexpected ways.  
  • hold your camera into the sun,  yes you will have to squint or even hold the camera away from your face a little, gently swivel the camera tilting it at angles.  you should see the light refract into the flare in your viewfinder, click away even if you can't "see" it click and tilt and click again.  eventually you may actually see those rainbows and circles , just practice practice practice.   (beauty of digital, shoot a lot!!!)
  • i have found that each lens has its own flare "fingerprint", so to speak.  shown in these images.   i even got my  first flares BEFORE my dslr camera with my point and shoot.  no fancy camera required for flare, honest.
from left to right:

point and shoot ~ 18-55mm kit lens on my dslr~ telephoto lens~ 60 mm macro lens

i get the best circles with my kit lens.
and the macro lens creates a large rainbow/halo effect.
  • my BEST tip is to pick something up with one hand and hold it to the sun.  let it obscure the sun.  the sun's rays will creep out over a corner and give you nice streams of light = a sunburst.  i feel this is the easiest way to get some flare.  pick up a flower, a leaf, a shell, you feet, whatever,  and give it a try.  in most of my flare shots i am doing just that!  
  •  using a flash works too!  i would NOT have guessed that since you are shooting straight into the light why use a flash???  but one morning i was shooting a dew covered leaf on my deck,  the sun was streaming though the trees, i had my camera on auto and the flare went off.  i though well that will be a bust shot but it was surprisingly pretty.  i then turned off the flash and just used the natural light to see the difference.  2 very different shots of the exact same thing.  the natural light shot allowed the colors of the flare to shine,  those hot pinks, where in the shot with the flash it captured the rays better.  here i placed the 2 shots side by side.  the flash on the left & without on the right.
  • my last bit of advice is get low.  if the sun is not directly above you in a noon sky, i find it helpful to get lower than your subject and shoot up.  still tilting my camera at angles looking for the bubbles and rainbows.  and remember, click click click!

  • now once you captured some flare or sunbursts, boost that color in processing!  i do not have PS or Lightroom,  i only use picnik editing in flickr.  no fancy software required.  saturate your color, use the "boost" tool,  and play with the contrast as well.  boosting will really bring out those colors, and playing with the contrast will define those rays.  

i hope this helps a little .
maybe another time we can play with camera settings .  aperture will effect your bursts and rays.  an easy way to think of that is squint your eyes at a light post at night.  the smaller the opening  of your eyes, the more of a star effect you get.  same with your camera.  the smaller the opening the more of a star affect you will get with your sunbursts.  

have a great flare filled friday!
if you haven't already please join the flare friday group and add to the light!  XO
i have a few ladies who seem to always catch the light!  every week they inspire me with their consistent images of beautiful flare.  click on over and check them out!
dawndh and her set, trippin the light fantastic
and tracey aka surprisepally


Shalet said...

Happy FF!

Char said...

great tips - I look forward to tryin them.

Diane said...

Excellent! A flaretorial!

Tina said...

great tutorial! i certainly learned a few things. although it seems easy, I often have a bit of trouble achieving the kind of flare you have.
happy weekend!

HLiza said...

Thanks for the great tips..had always marvelled at your FFs!

Kristybee said...

I never would have thought that using a flash would give me wow. I too hold things to the sun. Or I tilt the camera a bit so the sun is in the corner. I love your flare shots :D Happy Weekend!

Jackie said...

I'm so glad you gave us the flaretorial!! There were several things here that I haven't tried and I love that you gave us side by side comparisons! So, now armed with this knowledge I'll be doing lots of experiments. Thanks Kristin!!

kristin said...

i hope any info helps bring the flare to you all! i have never looked at the sun the same since my first one. :)

Brooke said...

You've inspired me to do more sunflare. I've been really down (and uncreative) about my photography and needed a little boost, thanks for doing that.

Side note I used to live in Caribou, ME when I was little :)

Shawna said...

i'm so excited by this. i've been dabbling in flare a bit, and i'm already in love. i don't know why it didn't occur to me to submit them to your group before. thanks for posting this tutorial, i'm looking forward to so flare fun!

Karen Ard said...

Remember to bump up your f-stop. Try f18 or 22 to get crisp rays... and manuel focus too!

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turbotad said...

Hey! Happy FF! I see you commenting all the time on Tiffani's photos - didn't know you started the Flare Fridays group! I'm a regular poster now :) and also from Camden, ME.