From the physical theory of lens flare, it is the image of the light source after many times of light reflection between the optical lens surfaces. So it would sound reasonable to add lens flare images to the original image.

In "Fast OpenGL-rendering of Lens Flares" and "Pseudo Lens Flare", you could tell they used the method.

But when I use Knoll Light Factory, and compare the RGB values of several pixels before and after adding a lens flare, I find Light Factory does not use the adding method.

What about your opinions on it?

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    I don't think it matters how it is achieved, as long as it looks right... – Digital Lightcraft May 21 '15 at 16:08

Flare is a term that encompasses veiling glare and ghosting. Both are an addition operation in linear RGB exposure space. Veiling glare is an overall addition of exposure in linear space which is generally spatially uniform. Ghosting can be caused by the presence of veiling glare and usually creates a spatially distinct artifact such as an image of the aperture. The definition and measurement of veiling glare are specified in ISO 9358.

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