A quick, cheap and dirty tutorial on how to achieve streak flares with any lens and save a lot of money by NOT shooting anamorphic.
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First, remove the glass of the UV filter. You can simply unscrew it or break it. The one I’m using is 77mm because it’s big and should cover all my lenses. You can make several, don’t worry about it.
After removing the glass, cut a piece of fishing line that’s just a little larger than the diameter of the ring. Tape it to the ring. Boom, done! Now that I thought about it, a Circular Polarizer would be better since you can adjust the direction of the wire. Scratch that UV I mentioned before, go with a CPL. When putting this in front of your lenses, you have to align it VERTICALLY, so your flares are horizontal.
Ok, a few notes on that: first, the diameter of the line affects the flare. The thinner it is, the subtler is the effect (subtler, does that work exist?). There is a huge number of different diameters for fishing lines, choose your favorite. I got three here, 0.2mm, 0.28mm and 0.41mm. You’ll see the difference in the tests.
Another option, if you don’t care about getting a little tape on your lenses is completely ignoring the CPL filter. Tape the line directly to the lens. The downside is you have to do it for every lens instead of simply swapping the filter.
Some people like doing this with several lines across, instead of just one in the middle, which causes stronger flares based also on the spacing between the lines. You can also tint the wire with markers so you have colored flares, as easy as that! Using regular wires will get you flares with the color of the light source.
Now for the bad side of using such trick. The most noticeable one is that you’ll get a line in your bokeh, or several lines if you used a whole bunch of them. It can start to show on any kind of highlights as well, since the lines are actually blocking light to reach the sensor.
And how the heck does this work? Why can’t I simply use regular threads instead of fishing line? Because fishing line is transparent and is denser than air. So when the light changes mediums from air to inside the line, it refracts. Some beams of will get in at a very magical angle and literally be trapped inside the wire unable to get out until it reaches either the cut at the top or the bottom. If you notice, the flare is always perpendicular to the wire AND always start at the light source. That happens because the light coming straight from that source will hit the wire. Some beams will go inside of it, and will not appear on the resulting image. The ones that DON’T get in are the ones causing the flare.
From optics, the Law of Reflection states that a beam will be reflected at the same angle which it hits the barrier. The barrier being the wire, the light can only reflect horizontally and THAT is what causes the streak flare. I hope this made any sense. If not, comment below and I’ll try to come up with better wording or visual examples!
Now that this is done, it’s time for you to try it out and enjoy this cheap trick. For me, I guess I should start a career in fishing, for I have over 500m of line here and each filter uses less than 10cm… Tito Ferradans, going fishing, see you next week!