A Guide to Creating Stunning Sunbursts in Your Landscape Photography

Nothing says sunrise or sunset like an explosive sunburst. The geometric pattern can double the interest in your photos when composed soundly, but you need to get a few settings in order. Here’s a guide to picking the right lens, mitigating flare, and composing the shot just right to create crisp, gorgeous sunbursts!

Most photographers know the magic kicks in above f/11, when the tiny aperture produces the characteristic spikes. But the f-stop is just one ingredient: haze in the atmosphere, clouds, your choice of foreground, and your particular lens work together to dissipate or enhance the sunburst effect. Even with the right conditions, you’ll need to bracket with two to three exposures to get crisp results.

This week’s vlog focuses on composing and capturing crisp sunburst shots without the hazy lens flare. It doesn’t take much to ruin a sunburst: a blown out sky, wispy clouds, shooting too far into golden hour, or hastily composing the shot only to find the sunburst is too distracting.

Still, capturing the images is the easy part: the post-production process can be frustratingly tedious, especially if you’re used to Lightroom’s non-destructive edits. So next week, we’ll pick up in Lightroom and walk through a non-destructive Lightroom and Photoshop round-tripping workflow.

Do you have any tips for capturing sunbursts not mentioned in the video? Have a favorite sunburst shot to share? Share them in the comments!

Jonathan Lee Martin's picture

Jonathan Lee Martin is a fine art landscape photographer, educator and globetrotting digital nomad. He’s traveling the world for a year to discover unique landscapes and help fellow landscape photographers lighten their load to go further.

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I liked that gentle touch of the finger technique.

It's pretty handy! Too bad the post processing is a bit of a pain. I would give anything to be able to use Lightroom's HDR merge with the finger technique so I can process it as a good ol' DNG.

<sarcasm> Luminar does all that with one click… </sarcasm>

I want the button that takes the entire picture too without me leaving the coffee shop 😇