70-200mm F/4 at 119mm - 9:17 PM

I've been asked many times over the years about the light in specific photos. About how I can shoot into the sun and still get a good shot, and how I get certain lighting and flare effects. While this is by no means a definitive guide to those topics, I'd like to discuss the basics of flare and how it's affected by field of view and the focal length of the lens you're using.

The simplest way to look at it is this, the wider your field of view, the smaller the sun is in the frame, and the less it will effect the image. That's why for many sunrise or sunset shots I'll shoot really wide and often even use a fisheye, you get to see a little bling of sun in the shot, but it doesn't really blow out or discolor the image. The greater the focal length of your lens the more the sun will effect your image, and (lens hoods aside) the further away from the suns axis you need to shoot to get a clean shot without "too much" flare. I put too much in quotes because that really is a personal opinion, and it can change drastically depending on the subject, the composition and intent of the image.

The shot at the top of this page was taken with a 70-200mm lens set at 119mm, and I moved around a lot panning the camera left and right to find the angle I wanted where there was a blown out soft golden glow on the right side of the frame, but still some detail on the left.

The shot to the right was taken in the same location only a few minutes later with the same lens set at 155mm. I moved the lens to the left and used my hand to keep the sun from hitting the lens directly and got a much cleaner completely different look.

The image at the bottom was shot a few minutes after the others with a Sony 16-35mm F/4 set at 17mm. You can see how the flare is there around the rider, but it doesn't effect much of the rest of the image. The almost setting sun streaming into the lens still colors everything a beautiful orange color.

Timing also plays a huge role in the color of the image. If you look at the last image as a comparison it was shot 10 minutes earlier with Rokinon 12mm Fisheye, and while the light is nice and warm it lacks that real orange glow.

Of course the quality of the glass and the coatings also plays a huge role in how direct sunlight looks, but really the best thing to do is simply to go out and play around with different lenses.

Sony 70-200mm F/4 at 155mm - 9:19 PM

Sony 16-35mm F/4 at 17mm - 9:23 PM

Jason Schroeder shreds the Tempest Trail at Bogus Basin on his mountain bike at sunset.

Rokinon 12mm Fisheye - 9:12 PM