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Railfan Technology > Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On

Date: 04/02/20 18:54
Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: eastpenn23

Is there any way to reduce lens flare when shooting trains head on? I'm not sure if that's the right term in this situation, but I'm referring to the three dots on the right side. I can photoshop it out, but is there anything I can do during the shot? Thanks! (For those curious, this is the East Penn Railroad)

Date: 04/02/20 19:28
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: i64west

Those inverted light source reflections usually happen when you have screw-on filters on the lens, like a UV/ND filter. 

Date: 04/02/20 19:48
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: wa4umr

It's something that is there no matter what.  It's reflections in the lens.  Better lenses (expensive) are more resistant to this problem because of coatings on the glass but I have seen it on local and even network new videos.  You know those are top quality glass.  The more contrast you have, the more you have this problem.  Scenes such as a night time shot in a dark neighborhood and the bright lights on the police cars are one example  As mentioned above, screw-on filters are sources of reflection.  Light hits the front of the lens and bounces back toward the subject and that reflects off of the back of the filter.  


Date: 04/02/20 20:19
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: Frisco1522

Then again, maybe it is Orbs.

Date: 04/02/20 22:30
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: exhaustED

When I first got a dslr I got these reflections really bad... from a quite cheap skylight filter. I decided to try an expensive one... and it was much better but the light reflections were still there if headlights were very bright. So i removed the skylight filters altogether... and haven't had a reflection since.

Date: 04/03/20 05:32
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: march_hare

Try to use a smaller aperture, too. That often helps a bit.  

Date: 04/03/20 11:59
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: SCUfoamer

This might be simple and not scientifically backed advice, but I find that I only get those pesky flairs when I am shooting at the exact level/height of the train. 

Date: 04/03/20 20:03
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: highgreengraphics

Nikon Nikkor lenses are ED lenses, meaning "Extra Dispersion" of stray light bouncing around between lens surfaces within the lens, helps this problem, and zooms have more interior element groups than fixed focal-length lenses. Also yes, remove your (gasp) protective UV or Skylight lens protective filter also. This is also very correctable in Photoshop in post-processing by blending, especially this one where the offending UFO's are much in the trees. === === = === JLH

Date: 04/04/20 03:39
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: Ray_Murphy

Here's the text I used in a similar discussion 10 years back:

Your photo exhibits what I believe is normal lens flare (slight fuzziness around the headlight edges), and you won't be able to do much about it.  The other artifact (inverted triangle of the headlights) is not lens flare - it's the first-order reflection of the illuminated image on the film or sensor back onto the surfaces of the lens components and filters. Since the lenses are usually coated, it's often the uncoated glass of the filter that provides the greatest contribution to this ghost image (ordinarily, the only visible contributors are just the really bright lights in the picture). In my experience (and I have had the problem for years with my telephoto evening/night shots), taking off any filters greatly reduces or eliminates the problem.  I have read, however, that some types of digital camera sensors, because of their multilayer construction, may be more prone to this problem than film cameras were.

Following that, I made a series of diagrams to show the optics of the problem:



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/20 03:40 by Ray_Murphy.

Date: 04/05/20 04:39
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: bobwilcox

In addition to the comments about lens quality and uv filters the current versions of Lightroom have a feature to correct for some types of lens flare.

Bob Wilcox
Charlottesville, VA
My Flickr Shots

Date: 04/05/20 16:56
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: bodkin6071

Lens hood?

Date: 04/06/20 02:17
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: exhaustED

bodkin6071 Wrote:
> Lens hood?

No thanks.

Date: 05/14/20 12:15
Re: Reducing Lens Flare and Shooting Head-On
Author: CimaScrambler

Clean, high-quality coated glass and as little of it as possible - the more glass surfaces in the lens the more flare you will see.  When shooting with headlights into the lens barrel, I try to use prime lenses, not zooms, take off all the filters because they are usually more dirty than they look, stop down to as small an aperture (high an f/stop number) as you can get.  Use a higher ISO to balance using a very small lens aperture if necessary to get the EV exposure right.  (In other words, high enough shutter speed set to stop motion, small aperture to minimize the amount of glass exposed to the flare, then choose an ISO that makes the exposure work - working backwards to the way most people were taught.)  After you get the shot, put the filter back on the lens to help keep the objective element surfaces clean for next time.

Kit Courter
Torrance, CA
LunarLight Photography

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