This is article #31 in the DSLR Video Weekly series.  If you’d like the whole thing in one shot, check out the book Creating DSLR Video: From Snapshots to Great Shots.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.

The sun is generally incredibly useful to photographers, but it can occasionally be annoying. If the sun hits your lens at an undesirable angle, you can end up with spots or flares that ruin a shot. Flares generally take on a geometric shape and may be easy to miss while recording.  Additionally, a flare can significantly reduce the amount of contrast and saturation in your image.

Pointing the camera into the sun almost guarantees you’ll get lens flares, as in this image of a washed out area with a geometric flare in the trees. Photo by Meghan Ryan-Harrington

The flare is typically caused by a very bright light source (in most cases the sun).  Flares are far more common in zoom lenses because they have multiple surfaces that are prone to light scatter. With a little practice, you’ll learn to spot flares quickly. Eliminating flares just requires a few strategies and modifications to your shooting style.

Use a Hood

Most lenses include a hood attached at the end of the lens. Typically, the hood is reversed for shipping (to make the lens shorter and easier to pack). Unfortunately, most people never bother to turn the hood around.

When shooting, reverse the lens hood to protect your lens from flares and other issues.  You can reverse it for packing or shipping.

Once a lens is mounted to your camera, you should properly set the hood. With a quick turn (and perhaps a push of a release button) the hood can be removed. Reverse its direction and reattach it to your lens to protect the lens from flare.

Hoods are usually specific to each lens.  Some will have notches (called petals) to better accommodate the aspect ratio of your camera’s digital sensor.  These hood types have an angle of view that is greater in one direction than the other. Others will vary in length to avoid casting a vignette in your final image.

If you lose your hood, I recommend purchasing a replacement.  The hood is the best way to reduce flares.  It can also help protect the front of the lens from an accidental impact as well as contact smudges.

Sometimes a slight tilt to your camera can remove a flare.
Photo by Robert Vanelli

Keep the Lens Clean and Clear

Most lenses have an anti-reflective coating to cut down on lens flare. Of course, greasy fingerprints and other smudges can also cause problems. When you clean the lens, be sure to use a proper lens cleaning cloth to remove smudges without damaging this coating.

The use of a cheap UV filter accentuated the tendency of my lens to flare when shooting on a bright sunny day.

If you’ll be using additional filters on your lenses (such as a protective UV filter or a neutral density filter), make sure you don’t skimp on quality. Cheap filters often lack good anti-reflective coatings. These filters can often cause flare through the introduction of additional reflective surfaces. If you’re using filters, make sure you choose a quality that matches your lens.

Flag the Lens

One way to prevent lens flare is to block the light.  Typically, the flare is caused by light entering from the side of the frame.  This light is rarely needed for a proper exposure and can be blocked.  If you’re using a tripod, you can place your body to the side of the lens to serve as a wall.   You can also reach out and hold a hat off to the side to block the light.

I used a Rogue FlashBender to protect the lens from additional flare while shooting on a bright day.

You can, of course, use other devices to block unwanted light.  I’ll often attach a Rogue FlashBender directly to my lens (  These flexible cards are normally used to shape an off-camera flash, but I find the flexible support rods and bendable surface works well to flag a troubling flare.

Change Your Position

If you can’t minimize a flare, you have one simple recourse.  Move your camera until the flare is gone.  Remember that flare is caused by light hitting the lens at an unwanted angle ).  Often, a small adjustment can be very effective at removing the flare.  You can frame the shot so objects are blocking the sun or light source (or even reposition your subject to block the light for you). You may also find that tilting or panning the camera just a few degrees can remove the flare.

The top shot has the light coming from behind the subject.  Not only does the backlighting make exposure difficult, but it creates a nasty flare.  The bottom shot shows the same location, but the photographer and subject’s positions have been swapped.

Join us each Saturday for the next installment of this weekly series.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.