Building a sunburst into the landscape for more interest.

Hill of Ice by Bob Grytten
Hill of Ice by Bob Grytten

Landscape photography can be greatly enhanced if selecting a unique point of interest that relates to the overall scene. Using the rule of thirds can be a great composition maker. In this example, the farmhouse is the focal point. Everything else supports it.

Red Cloud Sunset BRP, Bob Grytten image
Red Cloud Sunset BRP, Bob Grytten image

The next image has a lot of interesting light but no real center of interest. Sometimes we just have to take what nature provides. I still recall that late afternoon up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Everything was so special. I kept hanging around shooting like crazy. Everything was right for a super image but no central point. I still like this overall, however.  If there is nothing specific in the scene that may have a lot of potential, consider arriving there just before sunrise or just before sunset, to hopefully make a sunburst or starlight kind of feature that will be your point of interest.

Sun Rays over the Smokies by Louis Sasso
Sun Rays over the Smokies by Louis Sasso

Lens Lugger Louis Sasso captured this winner. It’s a great example how a sunburst can balance and enhance an otherwise good image, elevating it to a level of SUPER!

He Writes… “This was shot at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway, October 21, 2015 at 6:32 AM. I was in a four-day workshop that concentrated on the BRP. Used a Nikon D5300, with tripod. Stop: f25, shutter speed: 1/40 sec, underexposed: 1 stop, 100 ASA. I used a small aperture to get the ray effect. Processed in Lightroom; post-processing in Photoshop with NIK plug-in. Loved being there at sunrise.”  Louis Sasso

 To make the sunburst the following may be helpful as a guide…

Use a tripod if the shutter speed is too slow to hand hold. Generally, you should be able to hand-hold a 50mm lens at 1/50 of a second or an 18mm lens at 1/18 of a second. Early morning with the light just coming up will probably require you to use a tripod.

Using a tripod offers the benefit of our work becoming more deliberate often improving our final image. A remote shutter release is suggested or 2 sec or more delayed time release.

Using a wide-angle lens, consider setting the camera on Aperture Priority if not familiar with manual shooting. Adjustment to the exposure can be made with the EV control, or if shooting in Raw, with the computer.

Select a very small aperture ie., f/22.

A sunburst or sun flare will generally occur with a small point of light rather than a large broad light.

Country Road Tree Winter, Bob Grytten Photo
Country Road Tree Winter, Bob Grytten Photo

Positioning something in front of a potential light, such as a tree limb, can often block the light enough to create a smaller piece of light which may work better.


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