How to Avoid Lens Flare

Here is a quick tip that might come in handy when you want to include the sun in your scene and the lens or filters are causing lots of flare and ghosting. In the image below, I was using a graduated ND filter in front of my lens to darken the sky. The light reflecting between the filter and the front element of the lens was causing most of the ghosting issues that take the form of colored blobs of light.
Ghosting issues
Here is my suggestion in a situation like this is… take a second exposure with the camera on a tripod but, with this exposure, use your finger or another suitable object to block the sun as shown below. As you can see, the foreground has more contrast and most of the ghosting is gone.
Using a finger to block the sun

Back home, I loaded the two images as layers in Photoshop, then created a layer mask to hide the sky from the second image. In this case, I could use the gradient tool to very quickly create the mask, but, if your horizon isn’t so straight, you may have to do more masking work. In any case, making a very precise selection is not necessary.

Layers with mask

Finally, I used the spot healing brush tool to fix some of the remaining issues. As I was using an aperture of f/22 in order to get the sunburst effect, the dust particles on my sensor became visible. A few more touches with the healing brush quickly got rid of those.

Final image

This is a simple technique that can be very helpful when dealing with these kinds of situations. Alternatively, you might think that ghosting artifacts add an artsy touch to your images and decide to leave them there. That’s totally up to you.

About Author Ugo Cei

Ugo Cei is a fine-art travel and landscape photographer from Italy. If you were to ask him what he does, he would say that he is an educator who helps photography enthusiasts sharpen their skills, so that they can take amazing pictures.

He does this in various ways. First of all, by providing a wealth of free content here on Visual Wilderness and on his own website.

He lead photography tours and workshop via Mediterranean Photo Tours, a company offering photography holidays in the most inspiring locations of the Mediterranean.

He co-hosts and publishes a weekly podcast about travel photography, The Traveling Image Makers. Every week, they pick the brains of famous and not-so-famous travel photographers to learn what it means to travel for the love of photography and photograph for the love of travel.

  • Terry

    Awesome and informative! Thanks for this post! Definitely going to use this.