How to Create the Starburst Effect

Elevate your photography with this insightful look into the starburst effect. Learn what settings and approach you need to capture beams of light, and how the Stellar Filter Kit is your go-to for creative brilliance.

What is the starburst effect?

‘Diffraction’ is a photography term you may be familiar with. If not, diffraction essentially means the spreading of light. As photographers, we understand this optical phenomenon to be a bad thing because of the associated loss of sharpness. But diffraction is also responsible for creating a dreamy starburst effect in photographs where the sun or a harsh light source creates a Spiky, beam of light.

What does aperture have to do with the starburst effect?

The starburst effect in photography is predominantly controlled and dictated by your aperture, and more specifically, the blades of your aperture. If you asked two photographers to capture the same sun, they’ll likely produce different starburst effects due to their lens choice and the number of aperture blades the lens has (unless, of course, they’re using the same lens!).

Lenses with an even number of aperture blades will produce starbursts with the same amount of spikes, ie, a lens with 8 aperture blades will produce a starburst with 8 spikes. On the other hand, lenses with an odd amount of aperture blades will produce double, ie, a lens with 9 blades will produce a starburst with 18 spikes.