Many a photo has been taken with either intentional or unintentional effect of creating a starry appearance in the lights. Whether it’s a setting sun, a street lamp post, or any other light source (I’ve seen Christmas tree’s with stars everywhere), the star effect is so popular that there are even filters made to help produce this effect. The easiest way to create it though, is to drop your aperture down (or up) to f16! The result of adjusting your aperture so small is the equivalent of squinting your eyes.
Another added benefit of using the aperture instead of a layer of glass is the optical quality of your images is retained instead of losing sharpness, or even adding distortion on the edges of your shots. Someone once said to me “Why would you add a $20 filter to the end of a $500 lens?” At that point, I decided never to add cheap filters in order to produce a desired effect, and the star effect is a great example of this scenario.
Here’s a few sample shots I took with the Sigma 85mm f1.2 lens recently where dialing things down produced this star effect:
By comparison, take a look at a shot of the same sunset, but without the star effect. Sure, it’s a nice shot too (I like the branches in the upper part that bring a sense of balance to the image), but the missing star effect makes it somehow less magical for me. What about you? Do you like the magical stars from shooting at f16? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on shooting at f16 for stars, or any other photo tips you’d care to share. Have a great weekend, happy shooting and we’ll see you back here on Monday!