How to create a great “sunburst”

Jerusalem, Israel- 11/30/19 Visiting Old City. (Essdras M Suarez ©)

This optical effect refers to the creation of a very defined sunburst with
clearly discernible spikes or rays originating from the source of light i.e.
the sun. As opposed to a blob of light without define borders or edges. This applies to all different sources of light such as the sun or artificial lights.

This is due to an optical phenomenon known as diffraction in which the light diffracts through the blades of the lens creating this effect. Also, it is best achieved when using F apertures above F 11 all the way to 22, or 32 depending on what lens you are using.

However, the same diffraction effect that produces the starburst effect, can actually soften the overall sharpness of the image. So, you have to experiment and find your happy medium between the creation of an appealing sunburst and overall sharpness.



A church in St. Michaels, MD downtown. (Essdras M Suarez ©)

Even though, I’ve always known about this optical phenomenon it wasn’t until I became a social media influencer for Latin America for the Nikon Z7 camera that I started paying attention to the true potential of this technique.

Furthermore, the 14-30 4.0 S lens that I use with this camera produces some of the most eye-catching starbursts I’ve ever seen. I am not a technical guy but it has been explained to me this has to do with the size of the mount on the camera body and the closeness between the back element of the lens and the sensor.

Technical note: All of these images were shot at an aperture of F22 and varying ISOs and speeds depending on the situation. As it turns out, I, personally, haven’t noticed any loss of sharpness at its maximum aperture of 22.




Alexandria, VA 051220 Changing street lamps. (Essdras M Suarez)


My name is Essdras M. Suarez.

The world without photography will be meaningless to us if there is no light and color, which opens up our minds and expresses passion.

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