Many people know the appeal of shooting “wide open”, but did you know that you can capture some pretty awesome effects by doing the exact opposite? Shooting at a higher aperture such as f/1.8 or f/1.4 (wide open) can help achieve super smooth, blurry backgrounds. While this is pretty appealing to many photographers, not many know that closing your lens quite a bit and shooting at f/22 or so, also has an awesome appeal!
Using a lower aperture and facing toward the sun allows you to capture some killer lens flare!
Here’s my image straight out of camera. For this particular image, I used a 28mm 1.8 lens. My settings were f/22, 1/160, and ISO 800.
Shooting with a lower aperture means that you are closing your lens. This allows less light to enter your camera, so you may need to compensate by lowering your Shutter Speed (not too much, though, or you’ll get blurry subjects!), and also raising your ISO. Lots of people get scared when raising their ISO, as this can cause some grain in your photos. Don’t be nervous! It’s pretty easy to reduce grain in Adobe Camera RAW, if you need to.
Once your camera settings are set, you’ll want to find the light. I took this image at about 10:30 in the morning, so the sun was pretty high overhead. Shooting earlier in the morning or later in the evening will mean your lighting and flare may be visible at different angles. You may to experiment and see which times of day work best for the images you wish to create.
A good starting place would be to have your subject stand with their back to the sun, and you facing the subject. Snap a few photos and move around a bit to see which placement of the flare works best. Sometimes beams of flare may cover your subjects faces or body, but by moving around, tilting your camera a bit, and even angling your subject sideways slightly can help change the effects you capture.
In this image, a bit of the flare was covering my son’s face so I repositioned and took a few more shots. I ended up loving this one the most though, so I edited the color of the flare over his face to make it less noticeable. (No green dots on faces! 🙂 )
I hope you have a blast putting this technique to use! Shooting at a lower aperture isn’t just awesome for capturing flare, it’s also great for shooting several subjects at once, as it allows more of your frame to be in focus. Feel free to play around with your aperture and see what kind of varying results you can get! 🙂