Creating Starbursts in your Photos

Have you ever seen photos that have really cool starbursts in them but you aren’t sure how to make it happen in your own photos? Well, it’s actually pretty simple once you know how. There’s two things you need in order to make it happen. The first is a bright, but small light source like the sun. Bright lights like the ones in the picture below also work really well.

The second thing you need is a very small aperture setting on your camera lens. By small, I mean f/22. You might be able to get by with f/16 but it depends on the lens and the actual coatings on the lens. I just stick with f/22 and get pretty decent results.

So here’s the thing about getting the sun to starburst; generally you need to have it peeking through a small opening so that just a small spot of sunlight is visible. You can do this by capturing it on the edge of your subject so just a small portion is visible, like the shot below where the light is peeking through the edge of the palm frons.

You can also have it coming through a hole in the scene, which blocks a lot of the light but lets you capture a filtered version.

The next time you are out in the bright sun, set your lens to f/22 and see if you can’t make the starbursts come out.

A word of warning, pointing your camera directly at the sun can damage your eyes and your camera’s sensor, which is another good reason to have it peeking in from behind your subject.


  1. Jim,

    I am not sure whether you need to go that far necessarily. I found in a lot of cases (admittedly nighttime shots) f9 or f11 is enough.

    This shot was done at f11:


  2. you can also create solar flares and star bursts in photoshop


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