Tutorial: Add a realistic lens flare to a photo in seconds

May 25, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Tutorial: Add a realistic lens flare to a photo in seconds

May 25, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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Looking around it seems that technology is at its peak (well, read this in two or three years and laugh, but for now…). Cameras are almost noiseless, lenses are tack sharp and resolution is blowing off the roofs. To top it all, lenses have micro coating and nano coating eliminate any distortion.

And what do we do with those hyper-real photos? We apply Instagram filters and Nik filter. Then we post them online. Kinda funny, no? Gear makes are chacing optical perfection while the world is moving back to the 70’s and 50’s “damaged look”.

Stefan of the Image Manipulation Store came up with a fast and clever way to add realistic flares to any image in seconds. The cool thing is that they are no computerized, and are derived from real old lenses. (see video below)

YouTube video

The first step is to identify where the light is coming from in the image. This is because lens flares are usually created when a strong source of light hits a non-perfect glass (and while old lenses are beautiful in many ways, its glass is far from perfect).

Once you have the general direction for the light, you need to select the right flare. In the package that Stefan uses, there are several groups depending on the angle in which the light hits the lens. This is because light that hits the lens from the middle will create a different flare than light hitting the lens from say, top-right. The reflections and refraction will be different.

Once you found a flare to your liking, you can overlay that as a new layer on your original image.

The magic (just like with applying fire) is to turn the blending mode of the flare layer to “screen”, this removes the black and leaves only the flare.

Where do you stand on flares? love them or hate them?

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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3 responses to “Tutorial: Add a realistic lens flare to a photo in seconds”

  1. Salim Ahmed Avatar
    Salim Ahmed

    Realistic lens flare is good effective and overlay that as a new layer on original image is good decision.

  2. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    I guess we’ve officially moved from the “Fix it in post.” era to the “Break it in post.” era.

    1. udi tirosh Avatar
      udi tirosh

      While I obviously don’t agree, this is one of the most witty comments I’ve read in a long time :)