How to Photograph a Sunburst

I shared this little trick on capturing sunburst in your images on the Facebook fan page, and decided to share it here for later reference and for those who have sworn off of Facebook. 🙂

Okay, so I went on a short walk with my son the other day, and of course brought along my camera. As we walked back, I loved the position of the sun in relation to the house and wanted to capture it as a star-like form (which I call a sunburst).

Here are some helpful tips when attempting these kind of pictures:

  • Expose for the sky. This will make  your overall image underexposed, but allow the sun to show as a star-like form instead of one big hazy, white ball.
  • Shoot in RAW so that you can later make adjustments in ACR that you would have a hard time doing on a JPG in Photoshop Elements (or Photoshop).

Once I was home and download the images to my computer, I opened the RAW file in ACR and then Full Edit in PSE.

  • In ACR, I increased the exposure a bit, increased the ‘fill light’ a good bit, and also pushed up the clarity.
  • In Full Edit mode in PSE, I did a Levels adjustment to lighten the ground and house, inverted (control + i) and brushed on the ground and house with a white brush.

Make sure you don’t bring up the exposure too much in ACR, you want to keep the sky a nice shade of blue. Leave it fairly dark still and brighten the other parts of the image with a Levels adjustment.

Here is the before and after:

I was using my D700 and 24mm f2.8 lens, but this shot could have been taken with any of my lenses.

The camera settings were:

  • ISO 200
  • f16
  • SS 1/800th

I tried to find other tutorials showing how to do this, but could only find those that show how to use trees and other objects, nothing that is how to capture the sun full on.

About Amanda

I am passionate about helping others learn how to use their DSLR cameras and editing programs. More information about me can be found at my About page, or by visiting my personal blog.


  1. Wonderful tip! I am going to have to try this.

    Do you think it’s possible to get a shot like this SOOC?

  2. Thank you for sharing this, I have always wondered how to do this. I will try it out myself!

  3. The timing of your post is perfect! I love those kind of shots! I’ll use your tips today.

  4. The sun is going to shine tomorrow i will have to give this a try.. thank you so much for the tutorial

  5. good tut! i’ve always done this at f22 and a slower shutter 1/15 – 1/25. never thought about the post processing! LOL

  6. Thank you so much! I often wondered how to get a sunstar!!! 😀

  7. Thank you for the comprehensive tutorial. I have been wanting to do it but not sure how. Thank you.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mique Provost, Amanda Padgett. Amanda Padgett said: RT @30daysblog: Ever wonder how to capture a sunburst? @AmandaPadgett shows you how here: Awesome!! […]

  2. […] How to Photograph Sunbursts – A combination of camera and editing skills produces a wicked full-on sun-in-the-sky starburst! […]

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