Today's Guest Blogger: Andy Smith

Thanks, Rick for asking me to do a guest post on how I made this sunburst image at Dead Horse State Park, Utah, during your 2013 Southwest Photo Caravan workshop.

All of Rick's 2015 workshops, by the way, are listed on his 2015 Workshops page.

Sunburst photos like this aren’t that hard as long as you follow a few simple rules:
1. Keep your lens clean to avoid excessive flares and dust.
2. Consider using HDR (where possible) to get the extremes of highlights and shadows from shooting into the sun with a back lit subject.
3. Keep your lens clean.
4. Use an aperture of f/22 to get the best sunburst effect.  This will aggravate any dust issues, so . . .
5. Keep your lens clean.
6. Place the sun right at the edge of an object to get an even better sunburst effect.
7. Did I mention you should keep your lens clean?

Here’s what happens if you don’t keep your lens clean!


1. If it’s HDR, you’ll do the HDR first - watch the white and black points to get the best results around the sun flare, but otherwise process to taste.
2. Despotting in Photoshop - this can be tricky, as even clean, high-quality lenses can have flares.  You can use the healing brush or clone-and-stamp.  You don’t necessarily have to remove all of them, a few flares can be part of the dramatic effect.  If the flare is sitting over a hard-to-fill place, you’ll probably have to leave it it.  Again, it’s a judgement call on your part.
3. Final processing - use Lightroom/Photoshop/Plug-Ins as you wish.  I used Nik Color Efex Pro on the tree photo.

That’s really it.  It isn’t all that hard.  It’s a fun technique for a lot of things and can turn an otherwise poorly backlit subject into something interesting.  Here are a few more examples of where I’ve been able to use it.

Above: South Dakota on one of Rick's workshops.

Above: Double sunburst on locomotive.

Above: San Miguel sunburst.

Again, thanks to Rick, and I hope you can find some fun sunburst shots of your own.

For more of my work, please see:

• • • • •

This post sponsored by X-rite - the world leader in color management.