The sunburst effect means having visible sun rays in your photographs. It’s often used in landscape photography and commercial photography. The sunburst effect creates an idyllic and romantic atmosphere. It’s great for featuring exotic places, family moments, and weddings.
You can get the sunburst effect directly in your camera or you can use an image editor and add it in post-processing. Don’t forget you are looking for atmosphere and natural beauty. Keep your adjustments realistic and subtle. Here’s everything you need to know about the sunburst effect.
Where to find it
To photograph sun rays you need a sunny day. Moreover, the sun has to be partially obstructed by clouds, trees, roofs, or anything else suitable for your picture. You’ll point the camera directly to the sun, so you need it half hidden. Otherwise, it will be too bright to get the right exposure and catch sun rays.
How to photograph it
To photograph the refraction phenomena that makes sun rays visible you need to use a small aperture. This means a small amount of light will get in your camera. The smaller the aperture (f/22 will be great) the thinner and sharper the sun rays will be. You’ll need a good DSLR to allow you this aperture.
Pay attention to exposure as it’s very easy to have overexposed pictures. On the other hand, setting the right exposure for sun brightness might underexpose the rest of the frame. Focus manually to be sure the camera expose as you wish it to. Focusing on a brighter area and keeping the frame a little underexposed usually gets you the best contrast. Experiment until you find the right settings for your frame. Don’t forget to use different angles, allowing the sun to be more or less visible, until you understand how the effect works.
A star filter can help you get the perfect sunburst effect. A star filter has lines etched in the surface and can created different types of stars (for example, with six or eight rays).
How to edit it
If you want to add sun rays to your images you need to make sure your images correspond. Choose only those images where you have natural light, sunny weather, and the sun is partially visible.
You can use a general image editor like Adobe Photoshop or a dedicated photo editor like Luminar or Topaz. They are useful for image enhancing, retouching, and adding all sorts of effects.
If you are in a hurry, look for editors that already have the sun rays effect. For example, Luminar has an artificial intelligence sun rays tool, but Photoshop doesn’t. You’ll need to follow a long tutorial to create your own effect. Small editors and plugins like Topaz Star Effects, BeFunky, or Plugin Galaxy can help you solve this effect very fast.
Sunburst effect is aesthetically pleasant and improves the quality of your photos. It attracts the viewer and builds atmosphere. Try to use it at golden hour when the light is warm. Keep in mind that sunburst effect enhances the background of your photos. You still need a strong focal point and an interesting foreground. It’s like your subject has a huge star-shaped reflector. The challenge is to have a balanced composition, with natural effects, and a good story.
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