Lens Flare

What Is Ghosting/lens Flare?

At some point in time, you might have observed a reflection of sunlight or artificial light from the mirror. It happens when the light hits a mirror or any other shining object, it creates a reflection.

Similarly, during taking images, the sunlight or artificial lights hit your camera lenses directly, it creates a reflection on your scenery or the captured image. That is called ghosting. Because it often looks like a ghost with its mostly circular small and big shape.

Ghosting is the other name for lens flare. As we know the camera lens is made up of glass and intends to bend light. And the processing of bending light is projected onto the camera sensor which ends in capturing an image. It can just be a diffused glow. Whatever it is, it flares.

When the light coming from bright outside sources touches the front element of the camera lens, it can reflect off different elements of the lens. It causes undesired streaks of lights or orbs of different shapes across your image. It can change entirely change the layout of shooting mode by altering the schemes of colors.

Ghosting occurs during frequent light moving around the camera lens. It is seen in a form of one or multiple orbs or varying shapes and colors. It mainly appears when light directly touches the lens glass and causes several different artifacts across your photo.

Simply put, ghosting depends on the glass of the lens. The more the glass the more ghosts would see i.e., a 70 to 200 mm lens can welcome more ghosts than a lens of 50mm.

Difference between Ghosting and Flare

Are flare or ghosting different from one another? Let’s get into it. Lens flare occurs when a bright light directly touches your camera lens. It may take several forms as starbursts, circles, light streaks, or rings which overlap either any part of your image or the whole of it.

Ghosting is lens flare itself which appears in circular shapes as rings. These artifacts and visible spots are called ghosting. These circular shapes may vary in size and appearance in the image. However, ghosting is different from the bokeh effect which offers a blurred background of photos.

1. Kinds of Ghosting/Lens Flare

Ghosting may occur in different forms and shapes. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Veiling

Sometimes, a foggy light completely covers the scene which results in low-contrast or washed-out images. This phenomenon is known as veiling. It happens when outside light hits your camera lens’ front element.

  • Starbursts

A starburst flare occurs while shooting with a small aperture like f/11 and f/16. The aperture is a kind of setting in lens adjustment that controls the exposure of light to the camera lens. The small aperture enables you to keep larger exposure of light away from the lens. Whereas the smaller apertures make the sun look like a small star-like beam of light which gives the effect of a starburst.

  • Red-Dot Ghosting

It occurs as a result of light hitting the camera sensor and from then to the camera lens. The red-dot flare causes a dominant display of visible sprayed red dots on the image. This phenomenon is more common while shooting with mirrorless cameras coming with short flange distances.

2. Causes of ghosting

The following factors cause ghosting:

  • Lens Elements and Design

Heavy ghosting occurs due to the number of lens elements. The fewer lens elements would cause less ghosting. Similarly, lens design also impacts the flare.

  • Focal Length

Focal length also plays a role in ghosting. A larger focal length expands the reflection of light which results in ghosting.

  • Dusty Lens

Accumulated dust inside the lens, scratches on the outside of the lens, or UV filter also contribute to ghosting or lens flare.

  • Multi-Coating

Lens elements that come with multi-coating frequently cause ghosting.

  • Image Filters

The quality of filters has a huge impact on ghosting.

3. How to Avoid Unwanted Ghosting?

Well, you may not want a ghosting effect all the time. Therefore, the following are some ways to avoid undesired lens flaring:

  • Covering the Lens

Ghosting mainly occurs due to the light and camera lens interaction. If it can be avoided, then the flare can be gone entirely. The best way to do it is to have a lens-hood to maximum avoid the light reaching the lens.

Similarly, if you don’t have a hood, you can just put your hand or any other object to minimize the ghosting effect.

  • Quality of Lens

The quality of the lens has a role in reducing the lens flare such as the pro-grade lenses. They are expensive but significantly prevent your images from flaring effects.

  • Features of Lens that Prevent Ghosting

As the number of lenses affects the flare appearance, it would be better to go for the prime lens as compared to the zoom lens. Because the prime lens has fewer elements, thus causing fewer ghosts in your photos.

  • Changing Shooting Angle

Well, you can change the angle of your shooting. It is the simplest way to avoid ghosting without spending any penny. Hurrah.

4. Creative Side of Ghosting/Flare

Ghosting or lens flares which were considered an accidental phenomenon, have become a creative part of photography today. People get flares created on their images on demand.

For example, the anamorphic ghosting effect is widely used in cinematography. It captures a vast field without any distortion.

5. How to Intentionally Get Ghosting Effect

If you want to have some amazing dreamy images, then you can give a ghosting touch to them by yourself. It is not a big science. Just change the shooting angles and captures photos from all of them. See what’s satisfying or not.

This way, you can learn easily and have some creative flares in your photos without spending any money. Cool. I am going to try this up. Would you? Tell me in the comments.

Summing up

I am sure this reading would enable me to understand ghosting and flaring from all aspects. Ghosting is not always bad. You can avoid unwanted ghosting or create by yourself with some overhauling in the camera equipment or shooting techniques.

 A lot of online platforms such as photonic and mobile camera apps offer hundreds of filters to artificially create a ghosting effect. So, you can avoid ghosting or have fun with it.

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