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  • Writer's pictureAbdul Qudoos

How to Get Rid of Annoying Glare in Your Photos

Updated: Apr 7

portrait of young woman

You snap a nice photo of your friend, but the sun's rays create unwanted lens flares and reflections. Or you photograph a beautiful city view, only to have bright light wash out parts of buildings.

Glare ruins otherwise great photos and makes them unusable for printing or sharing online. But don’t delete those images just yet! With a few adjustments, you can reduce glare in photos and salvage your captures.

What Causes Glare in Photography?

Glare in photography is caused by direct and indirect sunlight, lens quality, and camera settings. Two main factors contributing to glare are:

Direct and Indirect Sun Glare

The main culprit behind glare is the sun. Sunlight can directly hit your camera lens and reflect into the image sensor. This creates washed-out lens flares and polygonal shapes.

Indirect sunlight bouncing off reflective surfaces like water or glass builds up and scatters in your lens. This causes veiling glare - a hazy fog that reduces image contrast.

Impact of Lens Quality and Camera Settings

Camera lenses with lower-quality materials and coatings are more prone to flare. Cheaper lenses allow internal reflections that an expensive, multi-coated lens would trap.

Using a narrow aperture or low ISO setting also increases the chance of glare. A wide aperture and higher ISO make a camera sensor less sensitive to bright light.

Preventing Glare When Capturing Photos

Preventing Glare When Capturing Photos

Stopping glare in the first place is easier than removing it later. Before you press the shutter button, keep these photography tips in mind:

Use a Lens Hood

A lens hood shades the front of your lens from stray light that causes flaring. For best results, match your lens hood size to your lens focal length.

Equip a UV Filter

Attaching a UV or neutral density filter to your lens helps block reflections. Make sure to purchase high-quality filters that don't reduce image sharpness.

Photograph Early Morning or Late Afternoon

The intensity of the midday sun often creates a heavy glare. For outdoor sessions, schedule shoots during the golden hours after sunrise or before sunset.

Creatively Position Your Subject

Turning your back to the sun prevents lens flare while illuminating your subject nicely. Or, place the sun behind trees, buildings, or other objects to block intense beams.

Adjust Your Camera Settings

When shooting scenes with strong light sources, override auto mode. Bump up your ISO, increase the shutter speed, stop down the aperture, or use exposure compensation to darken images. This makes glare less pronounced.

Removing Glare in Photo Editing Software

how to get rid of glare in photos

Despite your best efforts, some images will still exhibit glare. Thankfully, post-processing apps like Lightroom and Photoshop give you the tools to reduce or eliminate it.

Dehaze Tools

Modern editing programs include powerful dehaze filters that cut through haze...and glare too. These clever algorithms selectively lower contrast only in blown-out or foggy areas.

In Lightroom, grab the Dehaze slider in the Effects panel and pull it to the right. Photoshop users can find Dehaze under Filter > Camera Raw Filter.

Adjusting Highlights and Contrast

Glare manifests itself through bright highlights and lower contrast. Try darkening clipped highlights with the Highlights slider. Lowering Contrast also helps tone down glare intensity.

Using Adjustment Brushes

For small, localized glare like a lens flare, use adjustment brushes. Paint over the spots, then drag sliders like Exposure Down and Contrast Up to neutralize them.

Cropping Out Hotspots

If glare only appears in a certain corner or edge, simply crop it out! Photoshop and Lightroom’s crop overlays let you shave away distractions.

Cloning and Healing Tools

The Clone Stamp and Healing Brush handily remove lens flares and reflections. Sample a clean area, paint over the glare, and the tools do their magic. Blend edges softly so edits go unnoticed.

Eliminating Lens Flare in Post-Production

While less common than veiling glare or overexposure, you may capture striking polygonal lens flares from time to time. Eliminating these colorful shapes takes some finesse, but can dramatically improve your final image.

Identifying and Selecting Lens Flare Shapes

The first step is identifying the unwanted lens flare regions. Look for brightly-colored blobs, circles, or polygons. To select them for removal, use the Lasso Tool if flare areas are large and distinct. For smaller spots, the Magic Wand accurately finds flare shapes when you set a low tolerance.

Using Clone Stamp and Healing Tools

As mentioned before, Photoshop's Clone Stamp and Healing Brush allow you to paint over flare areas with texture and colors sampled from other photo parts. This makes them disappear seamlessly. Zoom in close to the edges and slowly brush over them for natural results.

Applying Custom Gradients

Instead of cloning, you can also make custom gradients that neutralize lens flare. Select the entire image, then add a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Use the Gradient tool to manually create a gradient that gradually darkens just the flare while leaving the rest of the photo alone.

Checking for Leftover Spots

Scan the areas where you removed the flare closely. Zoom in and inspect edges near your edits. If any leftover flare spots remain, use the Spot Healing Brush to clean them up. This ensures no traces stay behind.

Keeping Glare Out of Printed and Displayed Photos

After removing glare from photos, you’ll likely want to print your images or display them online. Unfortunately, some types of photo paper and screens bring glare right back through reflective surfaces.

Choosing Low-Glare Paper Types

Stay away from glossy, metallic paper stocks which act like mirrors under bright light. Instead, choose matte or satin photo paper finishes that scatter way less glare. Ilford Galerie Prestige and Canson Infinity are great options.

Framing Behind Glass

Picture frame glass often creates unwanted reflections unless you take steps to reduce it. Specialty non-glare glass options from brands like Artglass absorb light and stop reflections. Anti-reflective coatings on regular glass also work.

Careful Monitor and Device Placement

Position your computer monitor, TV, or devices displaying photos away from bright light sources. Tilting screens to avoid direct overhead lighting goes a long way. Investing in a glare-reducing screen protector can also help.

With glare properly removed during shooting and editing, you don’t want display reflections adding it back. Carefully control lighting conditions when showcasing your photos.

No More Squinting at Glare-Filled Photos

Harsh lighting is the enemy of photography, ruining our precious captures. But with the right prevention and editing techniques, you can conquer glare.

Use lens hoods when shooting, position subjects strategically, and leverage software tools like Dehaze and brushes to eliminate washed-out flare. Then showcase your photos only under soft, diffused light.

Following these tips ensures glare never distracts viewers from the true stars of your images. So get out there and start shooting glare-free photos!

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