Looking around it seems that technology is at its peak (well, read this in two or three years and lough, 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 filters to give them a more nostalgic look. Or maybe a more authentic look. And one of the common things to do is to apply a lens flare. A small imperfection. Then we post them online.
But what are those lens flares? We asked the almighty wikipedia and it told us that “Lens flare is the light scattered in lens systems through generally unwanted image formation mechanisms, such as internal reflection and scattering from material inhomogeneities in the lens. These mechanisms differ from the intended image formation mechanism that depends on refraction of the image rays. Flare manifests itself in two ways: as visible artifacts, and as a haze across the image. The haze makes the image look “washed out” by reducing contrast and color saturation (adding light to dark image regions, and adding white to saturated regions, reducing their saturation). Visible artifacts, usually in the shape of the lens iris, are formed when light follows a pathway through the lens that contains one or more reflections from the lens surfaces.”
Of course that sometimes you want flare because it’s real; in 2012’s Gravity the black void of space was flared by the brightness of the sun; and in 2009’s Star Trek every was flared because it was directed by JJ Abrahams.
And now, you can add your own flare into your photos. And we are not judgmental, you can do it for realistic reasons or for artistic ones.
We compiled a collection of 116 insanely beautiful reflections. All shot at super high res, against pitch dark black.
With that in mind, we just could not bring ourselves to create computerized flares, we wanted to celebrate the old lenses.
So we went out and bought 10 vintage lenses with beautiful optics, but crappy or no coating.
We got classics like the Nikon 43-86 (the 1976 version is known as the worst lens in the world), which conjures great flare. We got a few medium format beauties like the Mamiya Sekor C 135mm / f2.8 or the great ME 1B 37mm / f2.8 and adapted them to our camera.
As with many of our textures, you can easily add flare by using it as a layer and applying “screen” blending mode.
PS: Please use this sparingly – both J.J. Abrams and Michael Bay asked to keep their world records in flaring.
To make it easier for you, we devised a clever system: The flares are packed into 7 sub-folders.
- C (Center) – The light source is located in the center of the image.
- CI (Corner inner) – The light source is located within the frame in the corner
- CO (Corner outer) – The light source is in the corner, outside the frames
- CL (Center Left) – The light source is located in the middle left
- CT (center top) – The lamp is in the upper left corner
- LC (Left Center) – Light source outside the frames left
- TC (Top Center) – The light source is outside the frames above