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Took a pic with my 35mm Nikon lens last night, and got this light artifact. Is this something normal? Reflection? Is it dirt on my lens? How do I prevent this from happening? I think it only happened when there is backlighting.

UPDATE: new screenshot.

enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Or if you was into ghosts/UFOs/othernonsensicalrubbish this would be proof that it existed ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Dreamager
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is usually caused by aliens. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ hmmm I think the previous thread title was more descriptive :p \$\endgroup\$
    – rabbid
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 1:34

4 Answers 4

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Looks like lens flare to me. Odds are there's a similarly-shaped pattern of lights in front of the camera (possibly behind/above the subject since you noted backlighting) and what you're seeing is a result of those lights being bounced around inside the lens. update: Now that you've posted an updated photo, one can see the chandelier which is being reflected either by the lens itself or possibly by a filter on the lens.

For more information, see the lengthy answers to What causes lens flare?

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ in fact there is a chandelier behind the subjects that I think matches the glare. I was afraid something was broken, but I'm glad you don't think so. Question is I have shot backlights before but have never gotten glares so pronounced as this one, and in that shape. Usually glares can even be pleasing and add aesthetic value, but this one is just damn annoying. Any quick answer to that? I'll read up your link, thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – rabbid
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 10:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a filter on the front of the lens? This could easily add to the glare. Removing might not get rid of it, btu might make it less pronounced \$\endgroup\$
    – Dreamager
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 10:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do have a UV filter on the lens. Just a cheap one I bought to physically protect the lens. I thought the filter is supposed to reduce glare...? Ironic isn't it? \$\endgroup\$
    – rabbid
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ The filter will reduce UV. If you've got a multicoated one it'll reduce glare compared to one that isn't, but a bit of cheap glass placed infront of precision ground glass is always going to mean there's a chance of light reflecting in the wrong places \$\endgroup\$
    – Dreamager
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Cheap UV filters do more harm than good: lenstip.com/113.24-article-UV_filters_test_Tiffen_72mm_UV.html \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 18:15
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Another possibility is if you were using a filter, such as a UV filter, to take this shot, this can sometimes cause effects such as this when light sources are involved.

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    \$\begingroup\$ yes this is exactly what it it: the filter is reflecting the light off the primary element. you can see it is identical to the chandelier in the background. Take off your filter next time \$\endgroup\$
    – cmason
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you were concerned about protecting your lens, use a lens hood. Never use a UV filter unless there is flying danger (sand, salt-water, etc) or you want supernatural results ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 19:41
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It's definitely lens flare, from the chandelier in the upper right corner.

If you're using a filter, take it off for shots into the light like this, or try to keep the actual light source outside of the frame (and use a lens hood to keep the light off your lens).

You can also try a better filter. The cheap ones reflect a lot of light, and can make flare a lot worse. A good filter will have anti-reflective coatings that will help to reduce these kinds of problems (you should still take it off when shooting into bright lights, though; it will make it less obvious, but not eliminate it completely).

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I agree with @ahockley, it seems to be due to lens flare, and definitely not to dirt. To avoid/reduce it you can use a lens hood, which reduces the chances of unwanted ray of lights entering the lens.

This should be the lens hood made by Nikon for your lens.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for your reply :) in fact I have the lens hood on, but I think it was more or less useless because of the position of the backlight. Please see the updated screenshot. Thanks a lot! \$\endgroup\$
    – rabbid
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 10:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome. The lens hood cannot eliminate all the cases of flare, which in any case depend from the position of the light sources, from the geometry of the lens and from scratches/dirt (don't miss this famous test which is enlightening and fun) \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 11:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's a chandelier in the shot; a hood will help with adjacent light sources, but will not help with flare coming from light sources appearing on the photo. \$\endgroup\$
    – Imre
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 12:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Imre yes, the larger crop shows the source of the flare and it is not something that a hood can eliminate since it is directly framed. When I answered the photo was still in the small version, with only the "flared" girl appearing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 12:49

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