When you start in photography, you learn that lens flare is bad. In truth, it often is. Lens flare occurs when unwanted light scatters within the lens, usually creating unwanted highlights or artifacts. This often washes out or desaturates the image, or it creates undesired rays of light within the final frame. That's why we often use a lens hood to protect the front element of the lens, or we have someone hold shade over the camera to block unwanted light. There are even camera accessories made specifically to help photographers block out the light.
Lens flare, however, can be used as an artistic tool. Commonly, fashion photographers utilize lens flare to make an image feel dreamlike or to emphasize the warmth of an environment. You can use this technique to make an image soft or dreamy, particularly when shooting near sunset. When you're in the studio, you can purposefully create lens flare to build a surreal, glowing effect. In Figure 6.14, I achieved the lens flare by placing three strobes at full power on the background. The light bounces back, wraps around the subject, and refracts within the lens, creating this softening effect.
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