My first digital sun flare happened quite by accident many years ago. I remember seeing the image pop up on my little point-and-shoot screen, and I was instantly smitten with the colorful shapes and spots. I had zero idea how it happened, but I knew I was hooked. From that shot on, if the sun was shining, I was looking right at it through my lens. No longer did I merely tolerate the sun or work around it; I began to harness that gorgeous light and use it to my advantage to gain warmth and added beauty to my images—sometimes even composing the shot for the flare itself, rather than the other way around.
So what's flare? Flare happens when the light bends and reflects inside the glass body of your lens. Each lens being constructed differently results in each lens having its very own flare. I liken it to a fingerprint, each one different and unique. My kit lens provides a myriad of colorful shapes and bubbles, whereas my 60mm creates a large rainbow arch. My 50mm has a vibrant hot pink flare that I love. You get the picture—each one creates a different effect, therefore creating a different image. By playing with your gear, you'll find what type of flare yours creates.
Shooting the light can be tricky at first; it requires a willingness to play. Thanks to the gift of digital photography, you're not limited to a roll or 24 exposures. You're forever free to click away. For finding and creating sun flare, this is key. Move your camera body. As you tilt the camera, watch the light bend and refract in your viewfinder. The flare will appear there. It can take a little while to find it or "see" it at first, but it's there. Be patient. Click away, tilt again, and click some more. Practice, practice, practice. Once you develop your eye for your camera's flare, you'll begin to see it much easier and learn the sweet spots of your camera and lenses.
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