photography 101 :: flare

As I mentioned before, I took a few pictures as an experiment in sun flare.

I took all of these on my d90 with my 50mm 1.4. They were taken in sequence and all that changed was my aperture, and shutter speed to compensate. I probably could have adjusted my ISO, but I wanted to keep as much the same as possible.

The settings for these first two pictures were ISO 1250, f/8.0, 1/100 sec.

Then I widened my aperture – smaller number equals wider aperture – ISO 1250, f/3.5, 1/1000 sec.

And then I widened it even more – ISO 1250, f/2.0, 1/1600 sec.

Notice how the background, as well as the flare, changes as the aperture widens. Wider aperture = lower number. Also, there is almost no bokeh – blurring of the background caused by wide apertures – in the first few pictures, and is much more pronounced in the last few.

I could have shot some with a much lower aperture, but I really liked the flare I got at f/8.0.

So much you can do with the sun behind your subject. It’s something I’m determined to learn a lot more about… it’s definitely something that needs to be practiced to be perfected.

For more on shooting into the sun check out these tutorials:

5 Killer Ways to Shoot into the Sun

Shooting into the Sun

Behind the Image: Flare



  1. Love me some lens flare! And yes, the f/8 is definitely the best one – those smaller apertures are always my fav for lens flare. Great work girl!

  2. Amazing photos. My new camera which is 9 years coming will be in on Wednesday. I got the Canon T3i, I hope it does as good as yours does. Anyway, I plan to use your tutorials to try and take some good photos. Thanks for sharing…of course, your subjects are amazing!!!!!

  3. Huh, all this time, I had no idea aperture affected flare like that. That’s so great to know! Thanks!

  4. Emily F says:

    Love them!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been playing with sun flare as well, this post was timely!!! Have a ?: Is there a reason you’re shooting with such high ISO? I’m still learning but I’ve been second shooting some weddings with a professional and she always has me at the max ISO at 1000 and that’s literally if it’s almost dark outside! Would love to know your thoughts!!!

    • NiHaoYall says:

      It was 6:30AM when I took these… it looks a lot lighter in these photos than it actually was outside. I started off with my f-stop at 8.0, and to get the exposure I was after I had to crank up the ISO. My first shot, I even had the shutter speed way down at 1/60. So I had to have my ISO up there! After that, I just adjusted my aperture and shutter speed. Since I was experimenting, I wanted to change as little as possible.
      Great question, Emily :)

  5. I also like the sun flares best in the first two shots. I will have to experiment to see if I can get sun flares with my P & S.

  6. I love sun flare : )
    I am curious about your ISO being so high.
    Was it very dark in the woods where you were shooting?
    Your lessons are always fantastic.

  7. Thanks for the info on aperature and flare – now – how much training have you done with Seamus to get him to sit there like that?

  8. Great job on the tutorial…I haven’t done much of the lens flare, but will put it in on my radar now:) thanks.
    Laurie @ Pride In Photos

  9. Well done. I love everything about these. No way would my boxer sit still for this. Every time I try to take a pic of him he wants to put a nose print on my lens. :)

  10. I will try this with some sunsets. I rarely. no. never see 6:30am outside.
    but my real question is … how did you get the subject to sit so still? None of my experimental 2 legged or 4 legged ones will sit still like that!

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