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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau


Sunstars are a really cool effect that landscape photographers particularly like to have in some of their images. While they can be added in post processing, they are rather easy to achieve in camera, so why not create them in camera. I was just learning about them when I went to my first photo workshop in the fall of 2012. I have since had a lot of fun creating them intentionally and making them a part of an image. Actually there are many photographers who don't like this effect and make every effort to avoid having them in their images. Not me. In this case, it was accidental because I didn't set out to have a sunstar in this shot. But since that workshop I have often planned them into a shot. There are many other names for this effect, but scientifically they are called diffraction spikes. You have to have your camera set for a small aperture, f/16 to f/22. This constricts the light coming into your camera and when that constricted light passes through the lens opening, it is diffracted across the aperture blades of the lens. The more blades in your lens and the less curved they are result in the sharpest starburst effects. The other thing that is important to getting the best stars is to play a bit of peek-a-boo with the sun and have it partially obstructed by something, in this case the leaves on the trees. Sometimes you don't have to be looking toward the sky to get great starburst effects. For example, the reflection of the sun on water where there is a a distinct contrast between the dark color of the water and the brightness of the sun on it. And you can also get some pretty nice star burst shapes with street lights or vehicle head lights at night, too. In the next several days I will share some other sunstars or starbursts that I have purposely added to some of my images. Maybe these will inspire a few of you to get out with your camera and to make your own.

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