5 tips to photograph sun flare during the golden hour!

How to photograph the perfect sun flare

I was so incredibly excited about this Tinker Bell and Periwinkle photoshoot, not just because I put so much effort and creativity into their costumes. But I had also been working on using the light during golden hour, and I finally managed to learn to photograph the golden hour sun flare!

RELATED: Tinker Bell and Periwinkle Costumes

Now, obviously, I’m in about half of these photos. This photoshoot was a team effort between my husband and I. (If you need a tip to get your husband willingly in on this with you, say the word FREE. My husband knows that if I mention hiring a photographer, I don’t go with cheap… And he’s just about willing to do anything when I say free ;)) I played around with the sun and how I could photography golden hour sun flare before I gave him the camera. This way I could specifically direct him and show him what I was looking for!

 photograph the perfect sun flare

How to photograph the perfect sun flare!

How to Photograph the Golden Hour Sun Flare:

1. Pick a location with trees in between you and the sunset.

I’ve also seen it done with long grass, but where ever you go make sure you have something to act as a filter for the sun to create the sun flare. As the sun sets, it becomes very bright and powerful. The trees created a perfect filter and allowed the sun to shine through just a little while still protecting my daughters from the harsh light. This left my subjects clear and allowed me to photograph the sun flare behind them!

2. Head to your location an hour and a half before sunset.

As the sun went down, the sun flare changed drastically. It started out tiny at the top of the trees. Then it shined through perfectly for the majority of the shoot, but it changed and we adjusted as the sun continued to set. And then finally we went to the side of the woods where just a few trees blocked the sun because it was so low. You need plenty of time to adjust to the changing light so that you can make the most of each moment (escpecially if you are just learning)!

RELATED: Manual Tricks for Better Beach Sunset Portraits

The photo above where Anabelle is kissing me on the cheek was when we were able to first capture the sun flare. The sun had just started setting behind the trees! And then you can see that we stepped into the woods as the sun got lower and we were able to capture a bigger flare.

3. Move around.

The suns moving and you need to move too! Walk around to find a good spot where the sun is shining through the leaves. Stand up and then squat down and find exactly where the sweet spot is. As the sun sets, this spot constantly changes.

Below, you can see two very similar images! By moving around, my husband was able to capture two very different sun flares!

Tinker Bell and Periwinkle Costumes from Secret of the Wings. Family Halloween Costume Ideas!

Tinker Bell and Periwinkle Costumes from Secret of the Wings. Family Halloween Costume Ideas!

4. Use the manual selection.

I actually forgot to do this and got lucky… But if you are using your DSLR camera, make sure you switch from auto selection to manual selection. Otherwise the camera tends to automatically focus on the bright light. With manual selection, you can now make sure to focus on the subjects while still using auto focus!

5. Set your white balance on shade.

The shade setting allows for a more golden glow in the pictures. I actually had to use photoshop to adjust the color balance to even more gold, but having the raw images as close as you can get to what you want helps.

RELATED: How to Edit Beach Sunset Portraits

For the two pictures below, we had to move deeper into the woods. There is a pond on the other side of the trees, so there was only one line of trees in between us and the sun. The sun was at it’s lowest before going down and created a very dramatic light!

How to photograph the perfect sun flare

Tinker Bell and Periwinkle Costumes from Secret of the Wings. Family Halloween Costume Ideas!

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  • Jacki Quinones

    Great tips! I can’t wait to try them! I always have my camera set on autofocus so im looking forward to playing with this.

    • Oops, ok just a heads up, I meant manual selection… I’m going to edit the post to reflect this mistake, but wanted to let you know, I actually like auto focus, but I like to use manual selection!

  • Never Skip Brunch

    These pictures are too cute!

  • Zephyr

    I like the pictures as well as the tips. Thanks.