Find the light
Backlight is the key to fun, funky lens flares, so shoot toward the sun. This is easiest when it’s low, within an hour of rising or setting. Position the sun just outside of the frame, or let your subject,
the horizon, or a tree partially block the brightest light.
Expose for shadows
For once, don’t worry about ending up with a white, blown-out sky. Instead, zoom in and set the exposure for your subject, who will be in shadow, then zoom out to let the light flood in. Review your images and check that only the sky is overexposed, not any foreground details; this is easiest to see if your camera has a highlights playback mode that makes overexposed spots flash on-screen.
Assist your autofocus
Direct sun interferes with focus sensors. Use your hand or a sleeping pad to block the sun for a moment; focus on your subject, then lock focus to manual mode so it doesn’t change. Don’t move forward or back too much or you’ll have to start over.
Lens artifacts (rainbows, spots, etc.) that appear with backlight are unpredictable, so shoot a few frames, review your images to check the flare, adjust your position, and reshoot until you get the effect you want. Try to avoid flares blocking faces, especially eyes.
Refine at home
You’ll need to adjust backlit photos in a photo-editing program for them to look their best. Expect to add blacks and contrast and increase the saturation. Adjust the white balance so the light looks warm and golden.
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Photo details above:
spot: Mirror Lake, Wallowa Mountains, OR
Specs: f/6.3, 1/200 sec, ISO 200, 27mm Focal Length
Tools: 16-35mm Wide-Angle Lens