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Digital Photography Tips, Tutorials and Resources
Digital Photography Tips, Tutorials and Resources
by Benjamin Martorell on May 13, 2023
Are you looking to remove flash glare from a picture you took? We have all been there. You take a nice picture of your friends or family only to realize later that there is flash glare in the photo. Luckily, you can remove flash glare in Photoshop!
Flash glare can be incredibly frustrating. There aren’t many things more annoying than, for example, having to remove a big bright spot over an eye, even if it doesn’t fully cover the eye.
Glare is usually visible as either bright spots in people’s glasses, streaks of light, or as circles or polygonal shapes in an image. They aren’t always very bright and can be different colors. Glare is also sometimes not a shape or spot but a hazy glow.
Unfortunately, glare is often unavoidable and difficult to prevent when taking pictures. This is why getting rid of glare is one of the most common tasks in photo editing and probably one of the first Photoshop skills you will learn.
Luckily, you’re in the right place. This tutorial will explain:
Flash glare, also known as lens flare, is scattered light that bounces around in the camera before reaching the camera sensor. In other words, this “non-image forming light” does not follow the intended path of the camera lens (nor is it typically what the photographer wants).
Lens flare is more of a problem in wide-angle and zoom lenses, which have more lens components than prime camera lenses (i.e. lenses with one focal length). In short, there is simply more opportunity for light to scatter in a wide or zoom lens than in a prime lens.
Unsurprisingly, sunlight is a common source of lens flare. Obviously, glare can occur when the camera is facing the sun directly. But even when the camera is not pointing toward the sun, some sunlight may still enter the camera lens at a sharp angle.
To prevent this, all lenses come with lens hoods, which help block the main light source (using your hand, without getting it into the image, can also work).
Light sources — ceiling lights, lamps, on-camera flash, strobes, etc. — also cause flash glare. This is often how glare appears in glasses. Reflection from windows, mirrors, and even water can also cause glare.
Fortunately, there are lighting techniques and lens filters that minimize glare and reflection.
Photoshop offers many tools and techniques to remove lens flare. Although using them may seem a little confusing at first, they are actually fairly straightforward.
Once you get the hang of them, you will have no problem removing flash glare from your images.
Before we get started, make sure you have Photoshop downloaded on your computer. You can get it for $9.99/month with Adobe’s Creative Cloud Plan.
Here are some of the easiest ways to remove flashglare in photoshop:
Using the lasso tool is perhaps the easiest way to get rid of glare. With the lasso, you can simply draw around a spot you want to remove.
Note: This method is mostly suitable for photos with solid colors or repeating patterns. By choosing content aware, you are allowing Photoshop to make the edits automatically.
If your photo has areas that look hazy, the dehaze option in Camera Raw will reduce this effect.
This may not get rid of all of the haze. In that case, follow these steps:
Note: With a mask, you can remove parts of a layer to show the layer beneath it. So, in effect, you are looking through the layer that is on top.
The clone stamp tool is your best friend when it comes to removing lens flare because you can “paint” over the glare using source points. Source points are other spots in the image; in this case, those without glare) This is why the clone stamp tool is really effective at riding your image of unwanted bright spots or areas.
Using the Clone Stamp tool does take some practice. Also, don’t be afraid to zoom in more when you need to. The more you zoom in, the more accurate you can be.
Also, it’s good practice to zoom in and out as you work. Areas you edited might look good up close but not from a regular distance.
Note: Please be aware that the background layer is the original image. If you don’t want to edit it directly, simply add a new or duplicate layer and make the edits on that. The background layer will remain untouched as you work.
This technique is effective at reducing lens flare with color, which is often green.
While glare has obvious downsides and is usually not what people want, it does have its advantages. For those who want a more artistic or edgier look, lens flare can be that extra element that elevates the picture from a regular one to a more memorable photo.
So in this sense, flash glare has a lot of potential and a great way to attract attention if that is what you are looking for. It can also help you develop a photography style that is unique to you.
For example, if you are out shooting in the woods early in the morning or late in the evening—when the sun is shining low—the light coming through the trees creates a starburst effect. This can add a nice element to the image.
Similarly, capturing rays from the sun as it just starts to rise above the horizon is another great way to make a picture more attractive.
Another example is flash glare in a portrait. Pictures of a couple getting married often have glare (but in a way that doesn’t detract from the overall image).
As the images below demonstrate, glare gives these pictures an artistic feel (it is also possible to add glare in Photoshop).
So there you have it! You are now familiar with some of the ways you can remove flash glare in Photoshop, whether it from reflection, lights, or the sun.
To be sure, photo editing does take practice and experience, but with the information you learned in this tutorial, you’ll be off to a good start. You will become an efficient photo editor and be able to create the images you want in no time.
If you found this tutorial helpful, you also may be interested in checking out these articles:
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This does not address flash on a subject of the photo; this only deals with flash in a photo as seen by a viewer.
Hats off to the details.