How to Capture Sun Flares

What is a Sun Flare?

A sun flare, also referred to as sunburst or starburst, is a photographic technique where the sun’s rays look defined and sharp, like a pointed star. This can also be captured with street lamps or car lights.

Camera Settings and Techniques

Capturing sun flares is actually fairly simple. Read below for tips and tricks!

1 | Use a narrow aperture.

In order to capture sun flares, you’ll need to use a narrow aperture. Narrow apertures are associated with large f-stops, such as f16 – f22. When the opening of your lens is narrow, the light entering your camera “bends” and creates the starburst effect. Keep in mind that you’ll have to decrease your shutter speed or raise your ISO in order to compensate for this narrow aperture.

2 | Use a tripod if necessary.

Depending on how slow you need to make your shutter speed, you might need to use a tripod. If you don’t use a tripod, your photo may show camera shake. In order to avoid this, use this general rule: your shutter speed should be at least 1/focal length or faster. So for example, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, your shutter speed should be at least 1/60 or faster. Anything slower than this, you should definitely use a tripod.

3 | Partially block the sun.

Position yourself so that the sun is partially obstructed. This will help enhance the sun flare effect. You can use a tree, a building, or the horizon. It’s easiest to do this when the sun is low in the sky, so try shooting around sunrise or sunset.

4 | Get the same effect with street lamps.

You can also get this same effect with street lamps or car lights. Since these light sources are so small, you really don’t have to worry about obstructing them. Simply use a narrow aperture, and snap away!