Shooting into sunlight - flare, ghosting, etc

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bmm, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. bmm


    This question shows me up to be a relative newbie still !!

    On my recent trip to Paris I took a number of images directly into the setting sun... attempting to silhouette statues,
    street-lamps, people, buildings etc.

    The images were taken solely with 35/2 and 85/1.4 primes on a D80 (my travel kit of choice), usually stopped down
    around f/5.6 to f/9 range, and with EV adjustments of at least -1.5.

    While I'm happy with some of my results, in a number I have extensive artefacts that I want to learn to eliminate
    such as sun spots/blotches, flare, and lighter 'ghost' patches in what are supposed to be the dark parts of the
    image. These obviously reduce the dramatic, sharp contrasts that I was trying to achieve.

    I'd post an example but I'm at work currently and not on the computer where my images are stored.

    Are these avoidable through any kind of technique learnings? Would a lens hood have helped? (I assumed not as the
    sun was right into my lens, not across it). Are some lenses better than others in this situation?

    Cheers guys.
  2. It's impossible to design a lens that will not flair to some extent with the sun shining directly into it.
  3. As Robert said, flare is very difficult to avoid under the conditions you've described. Generally speaking, fast lenses, zooms and ultra-wide angle lenses are more vulnerable to flare.

    Stopping down doesn't always help. It can minimize veiling flare, the overall fogginess that reduces contrast. But stopping down will only sharpen ghosting flare into more precisely aperture shaped ghosts.

    Removing any protective filter or other filter can sometimes help. But when the light source is directly in the lens, there's little we can do to completely prevent flare.

    Keep in mind that flare artifacts are common to all optical designs, including the human eye. We just tend not to notice it in some conditions. If you watch movies closely you will often see flaring, both veiling and ghosting types. And cinematographers have access to the finest lenses in the world. We just either don't notice these instances, learn to ignore it, or accept it as part of the artistry.

    Personally, I like the effect of flare in some cases. It can contribute to a sense of drama and heightened realism.
  4. Bernard,

    My 20 cents worth....

    I really enjoy pointing my camera into heavily backlit scenes and like you, have experienced the irritation and dismay of a
    len flare in a most in-opportune place in the frame or shocking ghosting. Whilst I'm a relative newcomer to still photography
    I now know to remove any filters I might have on my lens - I use cheaper UV's as front prism protection (for better or worse)
    and removal of these has assisted with many lenses.

    I have also invested in a pair of relatively in expensive lenses, the 20mm f/3.5 AiS and a 28mm f/3.5 Ai both of which have a
    (well deserved) reputation for dealing well with flare and ghosts in such bright backlight scenes. Often with the 20mm lens I
    can reduce the lens flare to a single green dot and clone it successfully out of the image without too much sweat. I have a
    standard issure lens hood for the 20mm which is useless at such direct angles into the sun. I also use a much narrower
    length 85mm f/1.8 and find it's hood to be well worth using and other primes to 300mm with built in hoods which also assist.
  5. Bernard... You went all the way to France to take sunset pictures? Huh! Interesting! :)

    Seriously, according to the settings you describe, did you get a lot of CA with your 85? And I don't think a hood would help at all with flare if you are shooting directly into the Sun. Rene'
  6. You'll have some trouble getting no flare with your 85 1.4. It's an awesome lens, but that's a tough one. I've to run some more experiments... The 35 2 lens is fairly good for this. Below is a sample I took this weekend at Calaveras Big Trees, CA. The left was f16 @ iso 500 1/60 and the right was f22 iso 100 1/5. Keep in mind that my position was not consistent, so the f22 shot is probably the worst case because I had -too- much sun in the frame and I had camera motion. The f16 is more what I was after. This is a best /worst case for me on my 35mm 2.0. Did you have a glass filter on the lens? Was the lens front and rear element complete clean? Now, how do I attach photos in the new environment?
  7. The Nikkor 24mm 2.8 is a great lens for creating "sun stars" with little or no flare; Galen Rowell wrote about it in one of his early books.
    The best results are obtained at the smallest apertures. Take a look at "Mountain Light" for back-lit images without apparent flare. Galen
    identifies the lens he used for each image...

    Keep in mind that this was back when we were focusing manually, so auto-focus designs may exhibit different characteristics.
  8. The only lens that I have successfully used to shoot into the sun with minimal flare but a few small ghosts is
    the AIS 28mm f/2 without a filter on.
  9. Sorry, here are links to the photos. First one is with a UV(0) filter, while the 2nd pic is without a filter.
    Picture 1
    Picture 2
  10. G.V. - I routinely use the 24mm AF-D lens to get great sun bursts. Here is an example:

    It's not as good as a couple of other test shots, though. I've gotten just one green blob normally with the 24mm, which is easily correctable.
  11. In general, Zeiss T* lenses flair less than most other lenses in the same situation. Using a filter on the front of a lens may, in some cases cause flare to increase. Lens hoods always help.
  12. Hello Bernard,

    I too shoot an 85mm f1.4. It is my favorate lens, however it performs the worst in high light situations. It's function is to gather light very effectively in low light conditions. And does so well. It is not designed to shoot to the light.

    Best regards, Doug

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