Tuesday, April 21, 2009

keep it clean

Correctly placed and controlled - Lens Flair can be an amazing tool to enhance the mood of a photo. One thing I learned very early on though - less is more when dealing with lens flair. If you aren't careful it will take over your image and take away from what you are trying to communicate with your photo.

My primary lens (Canon 17-40mm f/ USM L) is such a workhorse. I use it all the time which means it is regularly cleaned. I have another lens that I use only occasionally and so it is frequently dirty when I pull it out of my bag. When working with lens flair (or just shooting into or around the sun with a wide angle lens) it is crucial that your lens be spotless. From the photos above you can see TONS of lens flair elements on the top image - if you need help seeing them look at the photo below.

The small dots around the faces are retouch marks - the larger cicles represent all the lens flair I removed from the image. I could have saved myself so much time and headache if I had cleaned the lens before using the lens. The next time you look in your bag and see a lens you haven't used in a while - take a second, pull it out and clean it. When you need it later you will be glad you did. Your lens should not be a candidate for an Orbit commercial. Dirty Lens? -- Clean it up!

Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 with (dirty) wide angle attachment
Settings: 1/80 f/11 ISO: 100
Light: Lastolite tri-grip diffuser being held out of frame camera left to cut the hard sun light by my assistant.

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