a28 December 2012

Tutorial: creating star bursts in camera

You have probably seen a number of photos with all light sources looking like tiny stars (also referred to as star bursts). If you haven't, take a look at the photo above to see what I mean. All point lights look like stars. This effect is especially effective in the night photos taken in the city as it makes such photos much more interesting.

You can create such an effect easily in post-processing but in fact it's possible and very simple to create it in camera as well (and frankly speaking I prefer achieving it this way). You just need to do following:
  1. Shoot with a wide-angle lens (eg. 16 or 24 mm),
  2. Make sure you use slow aperture (like f/13 or f/16 - the latter works best for me) because otherwise the effect won't be clearly visible (with very fast apertures it won't be visible at all),
  3. Make sure the light source doesn't fill whole frame or most of it (as the effect won't be visible in such a case), i.e. all light sources should be at some distance from the lens.
  4. Note: the number of stars' arms is very easy to predict. Each lens has a number of aperture blades (look in the specs). This number equals to the number of stars' arm this lens would produce. Canon 24-105 L has 8 aperture blades and that's why all "stars" in the image above have 8 arms.
Hope this helps :)

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