3 Lens FlareThere was a time when flare in the shot was thought of as a technical fault and it condemned a transparency to the trash bin. Today, the washed-out, at-the-beach look complete with into-the-sun flare is so popular that it’s commonly created in Photoshop! In fact, the next time you’re watching a high-budget sci-fi movie with ships marauding through space, you’ll probably notice the use of flare as the viewer pans across a scene in space even though such a shot is completely created without a lens!
Whereas the ring flash can create a haunting catchlight in the eyes, the washed-out backlit shot with lens flare isn’t about calling attention to an intense gaze as much as it’s about generating a warm, soothing and casual overall image. Colors are muted, and the background is largely blown out. This look, of course, grew out of the amateur snapshots of our youth (when parents admonished children to shoot with the sun at your back). Today the effect is so in that, more often than not, it’s created with artificial light.
To get lens flare is simple. Just make sure you have the light source in the frame. Flare comes from the internal reflections off the multitude of elements in the lens barrel. A point source works particularly well, so if the sun isn’t available, use the smallest source you have. You also can re-create the flare in Photoshop if you prefer to have more control over it in postproduction. If you do shoot for flare, consider using a zoom lens with a long range. These lenses tend to have more glass-to-air transitions, which is what makes the flare—more transitions, more flare. Don’t worry about not using your sharpest lens. Between the blown-out background and the intentional use of flare, you’re probably not going for a shot with zero chromatic aberrations and razor-sharpness across the frame anyway.
4 Ring LightThe ring flash creates a distinct catchlight in a subject’s eye that’s slightly haunting and very cool. This isn’t a new look by any means, but it’s a big attention-grabber. To get the full effect, a ring flash is the ideal tool, but there are other options available, as well. You can set up a large umbrella and position it directly behind the photographer with a central obstruction to hide the reflection of the photographer and camera. The key is to have the light source and the lens on the same axis. If you’re using a ring flash, wider-angle lenses tend to be better at creating the look than telephotos because the farther back you and the ring flash are from the subject, the smaller the catchlight appears in the eyes and therefore the less of a ring effect. Moving back with a longer lens, however, does preserve the direct frontal nature of the light so even with a ring flash and a medium telephoto, you’ll get a very cool effect; it just won’t have the same catchlight.
« Prev 2/2 Next