How To Remove Lens Flare In Photoshop And Lightroom

INTRODUCTION

As a photographer, you probably know how important it is that you understand how to manipulate light. One of the most important factor you must consider when dealing with photography light effects is "lens flare"(also called sun flare or solar flare). You’ve heard about this, no doubt, but what actually is it?

LENS FLARE

What is lens flare, and how does it affect image quality?

Simply put, when light (usually from a source that’s brighter than everything else you’re shooting) enters the camera lens, then the sensor it scatters. As a result, you may end up with blobs, spots, or stripes of light in your photos. It can make your shots hazy or result in a very blurry or unevenly lit photo.

Lens flare in photos is generally not a phenomenon that’s desirable; many photographers feel that it can ruin the perfect shot.


However, if it’s part of your style to shoot with lens flare, it can lend a sense of naturalism to your shots as well. But what if you want to add or reduce lens flare? Well, we’re here to help you out.


With a variety of editing apps at your disposal, you’ll soon know everything from how to get lens flare to removing lens flare from your shots entirely, if that’s what you’d prefer.

First, let’s look at some ways to reduce lens flare.


How to remove lens flare in Lightroom


Lightroom is a popular photo editing app developed by Adobe, and it’s a great way to get rid of any and all traces of solar flare in your shots. You shouldn’t find it too difficult, even if you’re not a pro at photo editing.

LIGHTROOM

However, it does depend on the photo and what proportion of lens flare you’re dealing with. In some cases, it’s easier to handle lens flare in Photoshop than it is in Lightroom because of the tools that are available.


Still, if you’d like to stick to Lightroom, this article will guide you through it step by step. So let’s look at how to reduce glare in Lightroom.


Removing lens flare using Lightroom:

  • Spot removal tool will be your best friend when it comes to a good lens flare editor.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN LIGHTROOM
  • Identify the spots of solar flare in your photo. As long as you’re not dealing with large stripes or spots, this tool should work relatively well. This Lightroom lens flare tool will automatically identify the parts in the photo which have an overabundance of light glare and correct them. However, if the tool misses out on some flare, you can just drag and drop the tool to another part of the photo to get the correction. 
  • If you are dealing with hazier blobs of lens flare, the ‘Spot Removal’ tool might fall short. In that case, go back to the ‘Develop’ menu and select the ‘Adjustment Brush.’
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN LIGHTROOM
  • Adjust the brush set accordingly. You can play with contrast or color, and also highlights, etc. This might require some deeper knowledge of Lightroom and photography, so if you’re a shutter-newbie, maybe stick to the ‘Spot Removal’ tool. 
  • Apply the brush over any lens flare area on your photo.
  • For an added touch to finish off polishing the shot, you can set the brush’s Range Mask to ‘Luminance.’ Keep adjusting the sliders until you see the lens flare is minimal or has totally disappeared.

Minimizing lens flare using lightroom:

So we’ve looked at how to remove sun glare in Lightroom, but there may be cases where you just want to edit the lens flare correctly or minimize it so that the photo still looks appealing. So here are some tips for editing lens flare in photos on Lightroom.

REMOVE LENS FLARE IN LIGHTROOM

You might be starting with a photo like this that has quite a lot of lens flare. So how should you go about reducing lens flare here?

  • First, open up your basic panel by clicking the arrow pointing left on the left side of the screen.
  • Then, under the options that are available, find ‘Exposure’. You can decrease your exposure by as much as you feel is necessary. This will help to even out the color palette in the photo, and you’ll notice you have managed to reduce lens flare by a lot already. This is a pretty important step, so don’t skip it. 
  • If you’re still trying to bring some evenness to the photo, you can then try to bring ‘Shadows’ down to the negatives. So pull the bar to the left and amp up the shadows in the shot.
  • Then increase the ‘Whites’ in the photo, and that will add a lot of depth and richness to the shot. Your photo should be looking a lot better now and a lot more balanced, compared to what it looked like when you began.
  • You can make further adjustments if you like. If you have Presets or are prepared to invest in some, you can use those to improve the photo. Using vignettes adds a good bit of contrast. You can also try using the ‘Radial Filter’ to adjust light effects. 

How to remove lens flare in Photoshop


The best tool in any photo editor’s arsenal is the old classic: Photoshop. Reducing light glare in Photoshop will probably be easier than dealing with it in Lightroom, so go for this option if you’re struggling to get the job done with Lightroom.


So let’s look at how to get rid of lens flare in Photoshop, and your snaps will be looking pristine in a jiffy!

PHOTOSHOP


Removing lens flare using photoshop:

If you have minimal lens flare in your photo, Photoshop has a great set of lens flare editor tools that can handle the sun rays.

  • First, create a new layer in Photoshop.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • Identify the ‘Spot Healing Brush’ tool and check the ‘Sample All Layers’ box. Then paint over the lens flare with the tool.     NOTE: You must know how to change brush size in Photoshop. Only then you can expect the right results.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • This should get you good results if you’ve only got a few small blobs of lens flare. If your flare is larger or more scattered, removing lens flare in Photoshop becomes a bit more challenging, but still manageable. From the toolbar, select the ‘Clone Stamp’ tool or use the shortcut for it (S). 
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • Keeping the hardness option at 0%, adjust the size until it covers your large flare.
  • Then paint over it, and you should have dealt with the large portion of the flare.
  • If neither of those options has worked, another great lens flare Photoshop tool is ‘Clone Source’. If you press the Option key or Alt (if you have Windows), and then select a rough area where there’s a major lens flare, then Photoshop will handle the rest. Continue to go over the flare until there’s none left. 
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • You may have to use the ‘Clone Source’ tool multiple times. Keep selecting areas around the flare and then press the keys. 
  • Another method for dealing with lens flare Photoshop has provided is via the ‘Patch tool’. However, bear in mind that this tool might result in a slightly disjointed-looking photo, so you may have to experiment a bit. Keep a saved copy of the photo before you attempt edits with this tool. Access the tool from the toolbar, or press the shortcut J.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • From the menu, choose the option ‘Content-Aware’. 
  • Now you have to select the area around the flare. Be generous with the selection and make it somewhat large. Now, to go about reducing lens flare, drag this selection to an area of the photo that doesn’t have any lens flare. Try to work with smaller areas here, as that will be more effective.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • To reduce light glare/sun glare, Photoshop will automatically smooth out the pixels from the area that was Patched. You can try this out a few times if you don’t get a result you like. Also, try adjusting the settings under ‘Structure’ for best results.

So that’s that when it comes to how to remove sun flare in Photoshop using its tools. But what if these aren’t working for you?

Using frequency separation in Photoshop:

If you want to remove sun glare, Photoshop provides another method: frequency separation. Here, you’ll be separating the texture and the color into separate layers.

  • First, duplicate your background twice. You will have two layers now (plus the background), name one ‘color’ and the other ‘texture’, with the latter being invisible.
  • On the color layer, select ‘Blur’ under ‘Filter’. Then select ‘Gaussian Blur’, and keep the radius between 15 and 20. You should still be able to see boundaries and shapes, even with the blur.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • Make the second layer (texture) visible. Then, under ‘Image’, go to ‘Apply Image’, and use these settings: Layer: colour, Blending: add, Scale:2, and check invert.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • On the right-hand side, the Blend mode should be set to normal. Change it to ‘linear light’. Now the layers should be separated.
  • Add a new layer on the color layer, since the lens flare falls on the color layer. Then zoom into the problem area, and you can finally go about reducing lens flare. Do this by selecting the ‘Clone Stamp’ tool, and set the opacity to 50%, and the flow to 100%. Also, set the align sample to ‘current and below’. Using this lens flare photo editor, run the brush over the flare slowly. It helps to have the brush set at a slightly larger size than the flare.
REMOVE LENS FLARE IN PHOTOSHOP
  • Once you’re done, you may have to also go over the texture layer in the same way, if reducing glare in Photoshop via the color layer has spilled over. Clean up the texture layer, and you’ll be done. Voila!

TIPS TO REMOVE OR AVOID LENS FLARE

So now you know how to get rid of sun glare in Photoshop, and you also know how to remove sunspots in Lightroom. But in case you don’t have access to these apps, or you’d just like some more options, there are some other ways you can go about this.

Other apps:

Try Snapseed, which is a free photo editing app on both iOS and Android. It has a very effective ‘Healing Brush’ that you can use to reduce lens flare.

Cropping:

A good way to manage scattered or excess lens flare is to crop the photo first before editing out the flare. This ensures that you have less flare to bother with, and you can then use any image editor to patch up the photo and deal with the remaining lens flare.

Blocking:

This is an easy technique, but you have to be aware of this as you’re shooting, and then you can fix it in the editing room later. When you’re shooting in a bright or sunny location, take two shots. One of the shots should be taken normally, and you can probably expect it to have a decent amount of lens flare. It might look something like this:


However, in the second shot, deliberately block the source of light with your finger or thumb or even your hand.

BLOCKING LENS FLARE

Make sure you shoot the two photos using exactly the same settings. All you have to do is open a photo editing app, load them on separate layers (if you’re using Photoshop, for example), and merge the two photos with some minimal editing here and there.

 OTHER WAYS TO EDIT LENS FLARE FLARE/SUN GLARE

Aside from removing glare in Photoshop or using other tools, you can also add sun flare/lens flare to photos using certain apps or programs. As mentioned earlier, lens flare is a stylistic choice, and it’s actually easier to create it in programs because you have more control over things.

Often when you’re shooting in broad daylight and lens flare enters the photo, you can end up with a washed-out shot. But if you’re adding it in post-production, you can get a natural effect, and of course, you can control its appearance to a much greater degree.

So how do you go about adding lens flare? Let’s look at a couple of ways you can do this.

EDITING LENS FLARE ONLINE USING PIXLR

Pixlr is a handy photo editing app that you can download for free. When you use Pixlr lens flare becomes quite easy to add into any photo. Let’s go over how you can do it.

PIXLR

How to add lens flare in pixlr?

  • Open Pixlr and add a new layer over your image.
  • From the toolbar on the right, select the ‘Gradient’ tool and adjust the type (on the top) to ‘Radial’. Then choose the black gradient template from the color bar beside it.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN PIXLR
  • Then click on the color box and change the color to orange. After this, the gradient tool should come up, so you can select the area in the photo where the sunspots should appear. Drag the tool across the photo wherever you’d like to place the flare. You should get an orange blur in that area.
  • Then go to ‘Layers’ on the right side of the screen and select the current layer. Under ‘Blend Mode’, select ‘Screen’. The color of the flare should now become much more natural.
  • Add another layer and repeat the steps, but replace the deep orange with a lighter orange. Remember to use the gradient tool in roughly the same area as you did in the previous layer. Then, under ‘Layers’, choose ‘Overlay’ from ‘Blend Mode’ and make the Transparency 70.
  • Add yet another layer, and rinse and repeat! This time, choose a yellow gradient and drag the gradient tool across a slightly more limited area. From ‘Layers’, select ‘Screen’ as the ‘Blend Mode’. You should get a beautiful result.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN PIXLR

          If you wish to get access to this free tool, click this link: https://pixlr.com/

EDITING LENS FLARE ONLINE USING PAINT.NET

Paint.net is a software for photo editing, with free and paid versions. It’s simple and acts as a good alternative to more complicated software applications like Photoshop. You can add extra plugins so you can do all kinds of fancy stuff using Paint.net. But you can easily manage to get lens flare in Paint.net without having to download extra plugins. Here’s how.

PAINT.NET

how to add lens flare in paint.net?

  • First, add a new layer. Then select the ‘Paintbrush’ tool on the right, or use the shortcut B. Then select any bright color from the color chart and make a blob (or a few blobs of various sizes, depending on what you want the lens flare to look like) of that color on the photo. Remember to avoid dark colors, whichever color you pick must be bright and light.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN PAINT.NET
  • Then choose the ‘Properties’ option on the new layer.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN PAINT.NET
  • Select the ‘Glow’ mode and set the opacity to 225.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN PAINT.NET
  • Select your eraser from the toolbox. Make the brush width quite large, say, well over 1000. 
ADDING LENS FLARE IN PAINT.NET
  • Then start erasing the flare gently, moving the eraser tool upwards. You can erase/blur it as you like, leaving sharper solar flares or smoothening them out. It depends on what you prefer. This is a quick and easy way to add lens flares in Paint.net!

    If you wish to download this software, click here: https://www.dotpdn.com/downloads/pdn.html

EDITING LENS FLARE ONLINE USING GIMP

GIMP is an open-source graphics editor that many artists and photographers use. It’s particularly popular with amateurs, and it happens to be free as well! The good thing about GIMP is that you can use it to add and remove sunspots or glares, and we’re going to show you how to do both.

a) Removing lens flare:

Lens flare GIMP tools work similar to Photoshop, so this should be a piece of cake for you by now. It’s quite easy to tackle.

  • Launch GIMP and open the relevant photo. Then duplicate the layer. 
  • Go to the GIMP toolbox and select the Healing Tool, which looks like a band-aid. 
  • Pressing and holding Ctrl, select the area where there are solar flares you’d like to get rid of. Then, once you’ve released the Ctrl key, you can start brushing out the flares.
  • You may have to try this a few times to get rid of all the lens flares on the photo. The tools in GIMP remove lens flare quickly and smoothly, so you should get a pretty neat and even result. 

b) Adding lens flare:

Now how about adding lens flare in GIMP? That’s easily done too! The good news is, when you’re using GIMP, the lens flare is on a totally separate layer, so it doesn’t really affect the base layer of the photo and allows you a lot of freedom when editing. Let’s look at how you can achieve lens flare perfection with GIMP.

  • Open GIMP and select your image. Under ‘Colors’, select ‘Curves’ and you’ll get a dialogue box. Click on the curve and you should get a new anchor, which you can then adjust. If you drag the curve downwards, the pixels will darken.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN GIMP
  • Reset the background color to default using the shortcut D. Then select ‘Layer’ and choose the ‘New Layer’ option, name the layer, and choose ‘Foreground color’ under the ‘Fill with’ dropdown menu.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN GIMP
  • Select the new layer, and select ‘Screen’ from the ‘Mode’ options.
  • Make sure you’re still on the new layer. Then go to ‘Filters’ and select ‘Light and Shadow’. Then select the ‘Lens Flare’ effect. You’ll get a window that will ask you to select the X and Y coordinates of the flare. You can preview it before you make the changes.
ADDING LENS FLARE IN GIMP
  • You should get a final result that looks something like this. A lens flares in all its glory!

     Click on this link, if you wish to use this editing tool: https://www.gimp.org/

CAMERA TECHNIQUES TO TACKLE LENS FLARE

Results of your lens flare experimentation will depend a lot on your camera lens. Any relatively recent lens you use should come with an anti-reflective coating so you won’t have to deal with very obvious flares.

If you’d like to capture more lens flares, simply use an older lens (and if you’d like to avoid lens flares altogether, then make sure you’re using a newer lens!). Here are some other factors which can influence lens flares:

When you shoot:

If you’re shooting during golden hour, you’re likely to pick up lens flare. But it’ll also be somewhat neutralized and you should get a better effect during this time. On the other hand, if you’re shooting under a hot afternoon sun, it’s likely that you might pick up a lot more flare. Time your shoots carefully!

Filters:

If you’d like to avoid lens flare altogether, there are several filters you can add to your lenses, such as neutral density filters or UV filters.

The lens hood:

The lens hood works to shade your lens so you don’t pick up any lens flare. Many lenses come with a lens hood. If you’re shopping for a new lens and you’d like to avoid sun rays, picking up an extra hood isn’t a bad idea. They can be a bit on the heavier side, so plan ahead if you’re traveling with your photography equipment. On the other hand, if you’d like to capture more sunspots, leave off the lens hood and shoot away!

Focal length:

Zoom lenses tend to have more internal elements, which increases the likelihood of capturing more sunspots. Wide-angle lenses are better at combating lens flare; and even if you do end up with snaps that are shot in a lot of light, you’ll still be dealing with smaller sunspots which will be easier to edit out.


So shoot with lenses with a larger focal length if you’d like to experiment with lens flare, but stick to lenses with a shorter focal length if you want your photos to be clear of sunspots.

Aperture:

Shooting at wider apertures gives you more blurry, soft sunspots. However, if you shoot at narrower apertures you might get sharper (although more limited) sunspots.

It’s easier to avoid lens flare than it is to edit it out, so if you’re shooting on a sunny day, just try repositioning yourself or the camera, or blocking the source of light from the shot by shooting with a tree or a building in the frame. Try a few new positions and shots if you can’t quite eliminate the lens flare on the first go. You’ll get there!

CONCLUSION

Dealing with lens flare can be challenging if you’re a beginner, but even pros find it frustrating sometimes. If you like your shots to look a certain way, lens flare can interfere with that. But now you know all about how to fix glare in Photoshop, how to remove lens flare Lightroom, and even how to get lens flare using several other programs and apps! You’re well and truly ready to tackle any sun rays that come your way.

However, remember to be relatively flexible when dealing with lens flare. Embracing a natural, well-lit photo is better than dealing with a shoddy edit that doesn’t quite get rid of every sunspot.


So in some cases, it might be better to stick with the shots you have and edit minimally. It all depends on what you like, and what you’re planning to do with your shots. Good luck! 

Stefan
 

Hey, this is Stefan. I love filmmaking gadgets because I have been working as a cinematographer for more than ten years. So I have good experience working with almost all filmmaking gadgets. I can help people who are looking forward to buying these gadgets with my review articles. From my articles, you can find amazing products in the market.

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