BTL: Sun Starburst Effect Wedding Party Portrait

In Photography by Jerad HillLeave a Comment

In our fantastic Facebook Group, a question was asked about how you can exaggerate the sun coming through the trees. This came at a perfect time because I had just photographed a wedding where I had the sun shining through the trees to create a natural sun starburst effect.

Natural Sunburst Wedding Portrait Photography

Not all camera settings are created equal when it comes to trying to capture the sun in this way. It also becomes challenging to capture a sun starburst while at the same time, keeping your subjects in the foreground exposed properly. As you can see in this image, I probably could have used a bit more light on my subjects but overall the photo turned out pretty good. Due to the excessive amount of light coming through the tree, there is some degradation in the finer details of the leafs of the tree. If you don’t zoom in on the photo, you probably won’t notice.

Most tutorials online will suggest that you need to close down your aperture to something like fstop 18 or even 22 to achieve this effect. As you can see, my aperture was set to 6.3. I was able to achieve the sun starburst effect because the sun was so overpowering and because my focal length was so wide. This is also why I decided to have the sun backlight my subjects. If the sun was behind me, lighting the front of my subjects, they would have barely been able to keep their eyes open. I would rather combat strong backlighting than force my subjects to hold their eyes open while the sun blinds them.

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This photo could have been improved had I been able to bounce some light back onto the front side of my clients. Because the sunlight was behind them, there was less available light to expose their faces. By either using a larger flash or a large bounce card, I could have exposed them better. It was not the end of the world, as you can see below when I explain my post production process on this image. My goal however, is to get the image as close to perfect in camera.

Camera Mode: Manual
Focal Length: 28mm

Shutter Speed: 1/160
Aperture: 6.3
ISO: 400
Flash: 1/32 Power – Manual Mode

The only post production editing done to this image was in Lightroom. I decreased the highlights to remove a bit of clipping that was happening near the sun starburst. I increased the shadows a bit to add some exposure to my subjects. I applied a light noise reduction to the image to remove a bit of the noise that was created by increasing the shadows.

Gear Used In This Photo:

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