Coastal Sunset and Beach Reflection

By Kerry Drager

Usually, you won’t want to include the sun in a picture, since it can overpower everything else in the frame. Plus, unless the sun is really low in the sky or diffused by fog or mist, you could put your eyes at risk by prolonged viewing of the big bright ball through the viewfinder. However, with a little maneuvering, you can include the sun for a dramatic effect.

Place the sun behind an object, mountain, or horizon so it’s just peeking out, and you have the opportunity to create a dynamic sunburst in which starlike beams of light radiate outward. Incidentally, any other sharp and bright point of light, such as a street lamp, can show a sunburst, too.

The effect is most distinct with a wide-angle lens, since the sun shows up small in the frame (which enhances the sunburst’s clarity), but even a normal (50mm) focal length can work as well. Here are some more tips:

- Stopping the lens down to a very small aperture (perhaps even your lens’s highest f number) helps get the rays to radiate out from the sun.

- Using a small aperture and showing only a small amount of sun will reduce the amount of lens flare (spots of light reflections on the image) that usually results when the sun hits the glass.

Coastal Sunset and Sunburst
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