Monday, March 5, 2012

Working With Direct Sunlight (Flare)

Have you ever been traveling and ended up having to shoot at a location that you want to capture during the middle of the day? Easy solution, shoot subjects that don't force you to look in the direction of the light source. Great thinking, but that isn't possible. Lets add another problem, the sun is in the frame of your image, which you know will lead to flare and a loss of contrast. For professional purposes this shooting scenario is unadvisable, but for travel photography it is something you have to deal with.

This image taken in downtown Vancouver, beside of the Olympic torch, is an example of what I'm taking about. It represents that image you really want to take, but know will be tarnished by flare. In this case the flaring is rather well controlled, given that the sun is in the frame. For memory sake shots like this are more than acceptable, if not unavoidable when you are working within time restraints. Of course the best way to avoid this the image would have had to be made earlier or later in the day, when the sun was either behind some of the buildings or lower in the sky (dawn or dusk). Of course when you are working within the time restraints of a tour that isn't always possible.

So what can you do to reduce flare in situations like this? Remove filters from your lens, they will only make matters worse. Check for dust on the lens, it can also cause flare. Try different angles and see if that reduces or eliminates the flare. Using a lens hood can also help, but not so much in this situation. Another solution to reduce flare is to use a lens that has flare resistant coatings, (like that Nikon 24-70mm F2.8G with Nano Crystal Coatings). If that isn't possible, try using a prime (fixed focal length) lens. Prime lenses also tend to be more resistant to flare than zooms, due to the use of fewer glass elements.