Do You Use Halation?

If you want a warm film look for your photographs or videos, you might want to consider one of the easiest ways to come closer to a film look. That is halation, or a light bloom, and I'm going to show you how it's done through a diffusion filter.

What Is Halation?

Halation is a photographic effect that can add a sense of nostalgia and warmth to a photograph or video. It is often associated with the look of film and can be used to give digital images a more analog feel. You can achieve this type of "bloom" or halation through diffusion filters for your camera lens.

How Can I Achieve Halation?

Halation is caused by light reflecting off the surfaces of the film emulsion and the film base. This creates a halo or bloom of light around bright objects in the image. The effect is more pronounced in film than in digital imaging, as film has a higher level of light sensitivity and a lower dynamic range. However, you can achieve halation through a few ways.

  1. Digital photographers and videographers can achieve a version of halation through diffusion filters. In the video, I talk about a diffusion filter for the lens, which provides halation in varies degrees. I test out two popular brands and even two different lens settings, like 1/4 stop diffusion and a 1/2 stop diffusion. 
  2. Another common method is to use a lens with a wide aperture, such as f/1.4 or f/2.8. This allows more light to enter the camera and can create a brighter halo around bright objects in the image. 
  3. You can also add halation in post-production using software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. In these programs, you can use the "lens blur" or "Gaussian blur" tool to create a halo around bright objects in the image. This can be fine-tuned to your liking.

Overall, halation can help to create a more film-like look in a photograph or video by adding a sense of nostalgia and warmth. It can also help to draw the viewer's attention to specific elements in the image. If I am photographing digitally, I prefer the easiest method of the diffusion filter. 

In conclusion, halation can be a powerful tool for adding a sense of nostalgia and warmth to digital images and can help to create a more film-like look. With a little experimentation, you can use it to add a unique touch to your photographs and videos.

Walid Azami's picture

Walid Azami is a Photographer/Director and creative consultant from Los Angeles. He got his start working with Madonna + Co by contributing to her many projects. It was then he realized his place in the creative world & began teaching himself photography. He has since shot Kanye, Mariah Carey, Usher, Bernie Sanders, JLO, amongst others

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Gabriel Castro's picture

Hallation and bloom are two different beasts. The article describes bloom, and not halation.
Bloom can be added by a diffusion filter, like promist.
Halation is happens on an emulsion film and manifests as a red/orange glow around very strong highlights and very high contrast edges, caused by the light that bounces from the back of the camera to the last emulsion layer (red).
This example from Westworld show halation on the upper part, but without bloom from a filter, that would diffuse the pratical light on the left of the frame.

Matthew Johnson's picture

nice catch, and excellent example

Patrick Hall's picture

I'm not exactly sure what I should be looking at in this photo. Is it happening just on the upper most openings or all of them?

Matthew Johnson's picture

I've heard glimmer glass gives a more-desirable effect than black-pro mist filters. Anyone find the same?

LightAffaire Photography's picture

"... as film has a higher level of light sensitivity and a lower dynamic range."

How can you have an higher level of light sensitivity and lower dynamic range?

An higher dynamic range should offer more light... so what exactly were you trying to say?

Jeremy Mosher's picture

A trick I have used in the past is to grab an UV filter and some hairspray. Spray the hairspray into the air (not directly onto the filter) and then wave the filter under the falling spray. If you get to much wash it off and try again, too little, spray again. Works great.