Lens Flares: Light and Color at Play

Lens Flares: Light and Color at Play

Stray rays of sunlight bouncing inside the lens barrel of a camera leave ghostly trails of stars, glowing halos, subtle rainbows, and specular orbs. Photographers may abhor these secondary traces of light, but lens flares serve a purpose: they create a sense of depth, focus intensity, provide an accent, and lend a dreamy glow to the scenario. The colors of lens flares are typically bright, desaturated, somewhat foggy, and somehow ethereal. Their charm lies in their uncontrolled, unpremeditated, and exuberant nature. Lens flares represent light at play within the tools we use to capture it. They offer brilliant highlights beyond our normal reach.

A ghostly green spectral crescent and pink aura of the moon inspired this palette.
img by Chealion.


A lens flare bathes a street preacher in a veritable patchwork quilt of colors (left). A sunrise over a church spire creates a lens flare rainbow of bright reds and blues (right).
img by Ouij and Guerito.


A firework explosion of purple and blue lens flares from a streelight inspired the Mercury Vapor palette.
img by Ricky Flores.


Like ripples in a pond, concentric rainbows fill the frame of this Seattle snapshot, creating an otherworldly mood.
img by Piero Sierra.


The light of the sunrise over stone wall ruins (left) creates a double lens flare of yellows, blues, purples, oranges, and pinks. The top rainbow inspired the Eclipse in Ruins palette, and the lower rainbow inspired Eclipse in Ruins 2. A lens flare in the portrait of a young woman (right) offers the subtle, romantic hues of yellow, green, blue-gray, red, and violet found in the Sunkissed Lens Flare palette.
img by steveharris and natfly.


Lens Flare Trivia:
• Any light source can create lens flares, not just sunlight.
• A candle flame can create a full rainbow halo.
• Shielding a camera lens from stray light can prevent lens flares.


Some Lens Flare Color Palette Inspiration:

Lens Flare lens flare.

lens through the lens

Fallen Lens Solar Flare Blue

Tapered Aura Sunkissed Lens Flare

Eclipse in Ruins 2 Eclipse in Ruins

Specular Crescent Mercury Vapor


Craig ConleyAbout the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Website: http://www.OneLetterWords.com
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow

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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 Comments
I love these pictures lens flares can be pretty spectacular, I was playing about with this not so long ago and got some great pinks from a candle
flaming hot!
Thanks for a great article :)
That's great!
That is some crazy color! In the future they'll wear lens flare jeans.

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