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5 Steps to Creating a Starburst Effect Day or Night
Lifestyle, Light

5 steps to create a starburst effect

Here are 5 steps to help you create starbursts day or night.

1. Set your aperture as high as it can go (at least f18).
You can get the effect if your aperture is open wider it just doesn’t have the same big starburst lines. Below is an example of a photo taken with a wider aperture and less of a starburst effect.

ISO 400, f11, ss 1/640

2. If shooting during the day time, partially block the sun with another object.

ISO 160, f18, ss 1/160

3. Cover your lens from the sun so you can get your settings correct.
Use your hand to shield the light (like you shield your eyes from the sun) that is pouring into your lens. Once you have your settings set then you can move your hand and let the light pour in.

ISO 320, f14, ss 1/80 (not sure why my aperture is at 14 and not 18)

4. Don’t point your camera directly at the sun as it could damage your eyes and/or your lens.

ISO 500, f32, ss 1/100

5. If shooting at night be sure to use a tripod since your shutter speed will be slower in order to get your photo properly exposed.
Or if you are like me and take your tripod to Tokyo Disneyland only to be told you aren’t allowed to use it, you can set your bookbag on some bushes as a make shift tripod. Disney has some very sturdy and level bushes :O)

ISO 250, f32, ss 25.0

ISO 320, f22, ss 0.5

Did you notice the pictures that had a closed up aperture (larger number) had the largest starburst effects!!!

Read more about fun ways to use light:

Low light photography tips
Secret to backlighting
Finding light in unexpected places

27 Comments
  • November 22, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    What an awesome tip – I definitely need to try this!

    • November 22, 2010 at 7:55 PM

      Thanks! Hope you will share your results :O)

  • November 22, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    Courtney I could spend hours reading your blog (sadly I have to get dressed for work). There is so much great info. Thank you.

    I’m going to play with your starburst effect tips this week. Hopefully I’ll capture something that is share worthy :)

    • November 22, 2010 at 7:56 PM

      Oh, thanks Jill!! Darn work getting in the way :O) he he Good luck getting a starburst effect! Can’t wait to see what you get :O)

  • November 22, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    These are gorgeous. Thanks for the tips!

  • November 23, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    Awesome tips :)

  • November 23, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Oooh, this looks fun! Sorry for my recent absence. I think you know all that’s been going on with us, but hopefully this week will calm down a little!

    • November 23, 2010 at 10:05 AM

      I hope it does calm down for y’all! Let us know if you need anything!

  • Emily
    November 25, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    I’ve always wondered how to do this. Thanks for the tips.

  • August 12, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    I’m just now reading this ;) Its almost a year ago, I love the night time tips!! Thanks!

  • August 26, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Love the tips! I actually just figured this out on my own a few months ago, but this is a great refresher! (And I love the story about Tokyo Disneyland! haha.)

  • Carmela
    September 1, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    I tried this technique on Thursday night and I liked the result so much I entered it in your August contest… my first contest ever.

    • Courtney
      September 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      Yay! I’m glad you tried this and entered your photo!!!

  • Brenda Cooke
    January 25, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    I love reading your tips and instructions. You make things so clear and simple and I appreciate that you also show the camera setting. I have learned so much from you in the short time I’ve been following you. Thank you for all your help, ideas, creativity and love of photography!

  • Rachel
    January 26, 2014 at 2:14 AM

    I love your posts. They are so helpful and you are so kind to spend the time to share your knowledge x

  • Jake
    January 26, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    Hi Courtney,

    That was a really useful tip. Thank you! I’m definitely going to experiment and play around with it.
    Just my 2cents regarding pointing a camera towards a bright (sun)light source – just as much as it can damage the Retina of the eye, it can burn out the photo-sensors, causing color-shift or even dark pixels. The lens itself merely conducts the light, and won’t be affected.

  • Emma
    January 27, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    love your site and all of your min-lessons!

    Also, LOVE seeing Oki in your photos! We’re stationed there right now :)

  • January 28, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Great tips! What lens do you typically use to do this?

  • Sayan paul
    October 15, 2017 at 10:16 PM

    I am using f29, iso 100, in aperture priority mode… With spot metering, and exposure compensation at -2.0.. Still the result is not satisfactory… what settings should i try? And what is going wrong in here?

    With lower f, the camera is showing ‘too much bright’.. Pls help

    • Courtney Slazinik
      October 29, 2017 at 8:49 PM

      I would put your exposure compensation at 0. That should help.

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