Preview of Lens Flare

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Today’s Question: I’ve learned that if I don’t like where lens flare appears in a photo, I can move my position and the flare moves too. This enables me to put the flare into a better position, such as not being in front of my subject. But I have to move several times taking pictures in different positions before I get a good result. Is there any way to determine where the flare will actually appear in a photo?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can preview where the flare will appear in a photo by enabling the depth of field preview option while using the Live View display on your camera’s LCD display to view the scene. It is also possible to simply use the viewfinder in conjunction with the depth of field preview option, but this could risk eye damage if a very bright light source (such as the sun) is the cause of the lens flare.

More Detail: I recommend using the Live View mode when you need to refine the position from which you are capturing a photo based on lens flare. This will provide a preview of the actual effect you can expect to capture, without putting your eyes at risk of damage if it is the sun within the frame causing the lens flare.

The key is to ensure the lens aperture is stopped down to the setting you will use for the actual capture. With an SLR, for example, the lens aperture remains fully open until you capture a photo (or enable the depth of field preview). Since lens flare is impacted by the aperture setting, you want to have the aperture stopped down when previewing the scene.

So, simply enable the Live View display, then enable the depth of field preview. You will then be able to see a preview of the lens flare (and the overall composition) on the camera’s LCD display. Adjust the camera’s position until you’re happy with the flare effect, and capture your photo.