How To Easily Capture SUNBURSTS In Your Photos 

“Sunburst” or “starburst” refers to capturing the sun in your photo where you can see the sun’s rays in a star like shape.  I do not capture a sunburst in all my landscape photos, but it is one of my favorite things to capture during a bright sunny day!  Here are a few tips to capture a sunburst. 

  • A bright sunny day makes for better results.  It is harder to capture a good sunburst on an overcast cloudy day!  
  • Set your camera to aperture priority mode (AV mode) and start out by setting your aperture to f/16.  My ISO settings are low; usually around 100.   
  • Take a test shot towards the sun.  You do not have to worry about harming your sensor by shooting towards the sun; I try to focus just below the actual sun itself so that it is easier for the camera to focus. If changing your focal point is an option, I use the center focal point and recompose if needed.  
  • Check your test shot on your LCD screen and adjust your f-stop accordingly.  If you open your lens wider (such as f/9) there will be less sun “points” in the sunburst compared to closing your aperture (such as f/22).   
  • Each lens is made slightly different so experiment with a few test shots to find your desired effect. I personally prefer to stay at f/16 with my 35mm.  
  • Do not forget to move around and try different angles.  It is easier to capture a sunburst if part of the sun is slightly behind an object such as a tree, hill, leaves, mountain, etc., especially when just learning your desired settings.  

Image above from the Grand Teton National Park & edited with Copper Fields from the Landscape Collection.

Here are a few examples on how changing your f-stop will change the effect of the sunburst.    

Example 1

Taken with Canon 6D and 35mm lens - ISO 100, f/2.8 and shutter speed 1/320 

This photo with my lens at a wider aperture (f/2.8), the sun looks more like a light blob compared to my next two examples. If your aperture is too wide you will not get the sun’s rays and desired sunburst effect. Edited with Buff from the Pretty Film Pastels.

How To Easily Capture SUNBURSTS In Your Photos

Example 2

- Taken with Canon 6D and 35mm lens - ISO 100, f/9.0 and shutter speed 1/320 

I closed down my aperture in this photo to f/9.0, which in turn shows a sunburst.  I like this image but wanted to try to get the rays a little more defined. Edited with Buff from the Pretty Film Pastels. 

How To Easily Capture SUNBURSTS In Your Photos

Example 3

Taken with Canon 6D and 35mm lens - ISO 100, f/16.0 and shutter speed 1/100 

By closing the aperture just slightly to f/16.0 the sunburst became more defined & the rays cover more of the photo.  This photo ended up being my favorite & final image.  I could have moved my f-stop to f/22 but was happy with the results at f/16.  Edited with Buff from the Pretty Film Pastels.

How To Easily Capture SUNBURSTS In Your Photos

Happy shooting and never stop exploring 


Danielle GundlachI am a mother to two wonderful boys, a wife to my amazing husband, and lover all animals including our two dogs! I was the little girl who wanted a camera for Christmas! I have always had a love for all things photography, but it was shortly after my oldest was born I bought my first DSLR camera. Flash forward seven years, a few upgrades in my gear, and THOUSANDS of pictures later I am now sharing my love for photography through my landscape and outdoor sessions. I specialize in Landscapes, Outdoor Family, Couple, Maternity, and Senior sessions in Interior Alaska. I look forward to capturing your memories forever!