Lens Flare

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In computer terms, lens flare is a bug that became a feature. Like grainy, high-contrast film images, lens flare started out as an undesirable image defect that was eventually embraced as a cool artistic effect. As you might expect, Photoshop can duplicate this look with great versatility.

Lens flare is generally caused by light bouncing around within the elements of a lens in uncontrolled ways. A bright light source within the picture area, such as a spotlight or the sun, can generate flare. Very bright lights that are outside the area you've framed can also cause a kind of overall flare that reduces the contrast of your

Thisdocumentiscreatedwithtrial versionofCHM2PDF Pilot2.16.100. your lens' glass, thus improving contrast and making your images appear sharper and snappier.

Some kinds of lenses are more susceptible to lens flare than others. Telephoto lenses have a narrow field of view, and light from outside that view can be objectionable. That's why telephotos virtually always are furnished with a lens hood, usually one custom-designed to precisely exclude illumination from outside the intended perspective of the lens. There is less you can do with normal and wide-angle lenses, as their much wider field of view automatically takes in every stray light source. However, lens hoods are a good idea for these lenses, as well. Even my ultra-wide 16mm fisheye has stubby fingers of a vestigial lens hood mounted on its outer edge.

The design of a lens also is a factor. Zoom lenses or any lens with many, many elements, as well as lenses with very large front surfaces are virtual magnets for image-obscuring stray light. With some lenses and certain shooting environments, flare is almost unavoidable. That may be why so many photographers have decided to grin and bear it by incorporating lens flare into their pictures as a creative element. Photoshop lets you put the lens flare exactly where you want it, with precisely the degree of flare that you desire. The algorithm the program uses is based on one developed by original Photoshop developer and Industrial Light and Magic guru John Knoll for his utility FlareMaker. Follow these steps to see for yourself how lens flare can be used.

1. Load the sunset.jpg file from the website. The image, a moody sunset picture, is shown in Figure 2.36.

Figure 2.36. This sunset picture could use a little livening up.

Figure 2.36. This sunset picture could use a little livening up.

2. The first thing to do is brighten the picture a little and give it more zip. Choose Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Move the Hue slider to 33 and the Saturation slider to +40. Click on OK and you'll end up with a more vivid image, like the one shown in Figure 2.37.

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