How To Photograph Sun Flare

If you haven’t noticed lately, I’m minorly obsessed with sun flares in my pictures. I’ve always thought they looked so beautiful and made pictures look so high fashion. I like to pretend I know what I’m doing ;)

So incase the rest of you would like to pretend you know what you are doing too, here’s how (at least how I’ve figured out) to create sun flare in your shots.

Step 1: Get Cozy With Your DSLR


Sorry ladies (and gents?), no way around this one…you need to shoot on manual. I’ve never tried it on auto, so I can’t really say, but in order to get the right balance, you basically need to overexpose your shot. Auto works against this, so it probably just won’t work.


Step 2: Choose Your Time Of Day Carefully

The best time of day for shooting any shots is that last hour before the sun goes down. Same is true for getting sun flare. You need the sun to be low enough in the sky that you are almost shooting directly into it.


Step 3: Compose Your Shot

Yes, I know that goes against everything you’ve ever heard about photography, but you need to have the sun in or just barely out of your shot to get the flare.


Step 4: Adjust Your Settings

Here comes the time where you need to know your manual settings and be able to adjust them. Since shooting toward the sun will creat horrendous backlighting, you basically have to overexpose the shot so you or your subject aren’t just a dark blob. If you look at the pictures above, you can see which times I did this better.

Most of these shots are taken at ISO 100-200, f/4.5, and a rather slow shutter speed of somewhere around 1/50 sec. Depending on your light, you will need to play with these. The main point is that you want to allow a lot of light into the lens.


(Optional) Step 5: Turn On The Flash

Here you can see how much darker I look when there’s no flash, and then how much brighter I am with the flash on. The flash helps compensate for the backlighting. Sometimes you will find that you need to turn on the flash to fill the subject in with light.

The most important thing you can do is practice! The more I attempt to shoot sun flares, the better my shots get. It’s all about learning your camera settings and learning how to capture the light.

Each time you try this, your flare will look different. Sometimes I get the amazing colored dots, other times it’s rainbow lines, and others it’s simply a beautiful wash of lighting. Just as each photograph is unique, so is each sun flare.

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  1. Abby says:

    I really was attempting this yesterday–but on auto and it wasn’t working at all. You’re taking me to my scary place! :) Actually, you make it sound fairly straight-forward and if I can get results like yours, I’ll be ecstatic. Thank you for a great tutorial!!

  2. Brandy says:

    Thank you for this!!! :)

  3. Kadie says:

    THose pictures are auhmazing!Thanks for sharing!
    P.S. You look awesome!

  4. Thank you for this! I am going to take some pictures of my kids soon in the bluebells and I can’t wait to get some sun flared shots in the flowers!!!

  5. andi says:

    amazing post! i pinned it :)

  6. great advice! Pinned!

  7. Fawn says:

    This is completely off topic but I must say it: I love you. I love your fashioon, I love your confidence, I love your honesty, I love your smile, I love your eyes, I love your hair, I love your “chub”, I love your blog, I love you. I found this while trying to prep a casual yet fun outfit that I could wear out dancing on Saturday night. I was trying to decide if I looked silly in my skinny jeans, although I have already worn them a gazillion and 1 times. I am wearing them, I am rocking them, and I am thinking of you and your beautiful self. Thank you! I needed your photos tonight. Hope I didn’t freak you out with my silly girl crush. You made my night!

  8. Ashley says:

    thank you thank you thank you

  9. marissa says:

    I love this! I’ll have to try this out. thanks for taking the time to explain


  10. Thanks so much for this post! I was having trouble finding the right balance for the sun flare look! I have been dieing to get some great shots like this!

  11. vicky says:

    hey hun
    I just found your blog and I really love it!
    your blog is so cute, I love your content!!
    I would love it if we could follow each other
    and check my GIVEAWAY on my blog:)
    keep in touch!

  12. Vernon says:

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    The clarity in your post is just great and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
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