How to Work with Lens Flares in a Home Photo Studio

One of the golden rules of studio photography is to never point lights straight at the camera. Doing so can create lens flare, reduced contrast, and all sorts of other problems. Yet, in the video below, portrait photographer Gavin Hoey shows us that rules like the one above are meant to be understood and then creatively broken:

Like any art, photography has a number of rules even experienced photographers are expected to follow. There are rules about composition, how to light the model, how the model should pose for best effect—and all of these exist for good reasons. But following these rules blindly can definitely put a damper on your creativity. Just take a look at the effects Hoey is able to create by going completely against the rule–they’re both artistic and unique, as well as quite beautiful.

Using a lens flare creatively

The image above was created simply by pointing two speedlights at the camera, adding gels to them, and adding a bit of fog. (He also had a standard beauty dish in front and a background light.) When he used a black and/or foggy background he had next to no post-processing to do and came out with a stellar image.

With the gray background, he had a little more work to do removing the stands, but by using the healing brush on proximity match, it took just seconds to complete the task.

Using the healing brush effectively

He tried working with the clone stamp first, but cloning doesn’t work so well when there’s a gradient involved. The healing brush without the proximity match did OK, but it turned out that the healing brush with the proximity match checked gave the best effect.

The result? A brilliant effect.

Lens flare with a gray background

Gear Used

Of course, this effect will work with just about any gear used in a similar fashion, but the effect is just one part of the puzzle. Perhaps even more important is the willingness to explore beyond convention or rote learning, to learn not only why the rules exist but experiment with breaking them to see if something new or interesting can be created. As Hoey says at the end of the video,

“It’s so often the case that breaking the rules of photography will increase your creativity.”

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One Comment

  1. Terry Huttlestone says:

    Thanks, Gavin, this short video has already taught me a couple of very useful tips, and though I’m only an amateur, just starting on my new hobby after retirement, I shall certainly put into practice all you have told me. Many thanks again, Terry

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