Stand Out Photos: Here’s Something Fun to Try …

Mesa Arch In Canyonlands At Sunrise

Most stock agencies have hundreds of millions of photos in them. Which means that anything you can do to add your own “twist” to your photos to make them stand out from the crowd will help your sales.

Take a look at this stock photo of a forest, for example:

If it were just trees, it would be competing with every other tree photo. But since there’s a BIG sunburst coming through, it becomes a more interesting, dynamic image.

Starbursts effects like the one you see in this image are soooo easy to create in the camera, and they can add that “extra something” to your images. 

Here’s how to make starbursts show up in your photos:

  1. Put your camera into Aperture Priority mode. (This is on the “mode” dial and either looks like an “A” or an “Ap” or “Av” depending on your camera brand.)
  2. Set your aperture to a small opening – around f/16 or f/22. (The more you close down your aperture, the more obvious your starburst will be.)
  3. Include the sun or another direct light source in your composition. Note: This works best with very bright, but very small sources of light. You may have to partially hide the sun behind some branches or a person, letting just a sliver of it peek out.
  4. Take the shot and see what you get! This works differently for every lens, so if you don’t see one, try a higher f-stop number, or a different lens.

Starbursts can be a great way to take your landscape, travel, and architecture images up a notch.

Starbursts can also work well with shots of people — especially images with an active lifestyle or outdoor adventure theme, such as these:

Notice that in all of the photos above, it works particularly well if you partially block the sun with the horizon, a building, branch, person, etc… This way the sun has something to burst through.

This trick will work with any bright, small light source, not just the sun. It’s particularly amazing for blue-hour shots. Here the photographer created starbursts from streetlights at twilight.

Keep in mind that anything super bright in your image will draw the viewer’s eye, so you want to be sure that the starburst is adding to your shot, and not creating an unnecessary distraction.

Give this technique a try on the next sunny day! It could be the perfect thing to do for this month’s Breakfast Stock Club Challenge, “Parks and Recreation.” And if you’re not a member, yet, you can join in on this fun Challenge here.

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