Creating Starburst Effects in Photos

The first of our reader-submitted snapshots features a very cool lighting effect that's easy to recreate.

Aspiring photographer Daniel Johnson used his Nikon D90 and a tripod to take this nighttime shot at Volunteer Landing in Knoxville, TN. Daniel set up his tripod and camera by the river just after sunset, during the so-called "blue hour." By not shooting too late into the night, he was able to capture a rich blue color in the sky.

He mounted a Tamron 14-50mm f1:2.8 lens on his D90 and took this shot at a 30 second exposure with an ISO setting of 200. To create the sharp starburst effects on the bridge lights, he shrunk his aperture down to f/14 which creates light diffraction. The smaller the aperture (at f/12 or smaller), the more pronounced the starburst effect (also called a sunburst) will be. The exact number of points that appear around a light will vary depending on the type of lens and how many blades it has. Johnson recommends sticking with a shorter focal length as zooming in can cancel out the effect.

Want to submit your own photo to our Snapshot series? Send the photo (or a link to the photo) and a description of how you got the shot to Include the text "Snapshot" in the subject line. We'll pick our favorites and feature them on our Website.

This story, "Creating Starburst Effects in Photos" was originally published by Macworld.

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