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 Shooting against the sun 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:24 am
Posts: 2
Post Shooting against the sun
Hey there,

I wonder how to get perfect sunbeams when photographing at sunset, direct into the sun? I usually use two graduated ND filter when I take landscape photos but my timelapse movies will not be so good.

Take a look at this moive - https://vimeo.com/98235863 , at 2.07 and 2.13.

What is the best technique?

1. Combining a glass-made ND with a graduated ND.

2. HDR (What I most want to avoid)


Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:39 am
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Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:25 pm
Posts: 153
Location: North Bend, Washington
Post Re: Shooting against the sun
Sunbeams (aka "sunstars") like this are actually a flaw caused by lens diffraction at very small apertures (f/18 or f/22). Light bounces off the nearly-closed blades of the lens iris and creates flares that look like beams. It's often a very desirable "flaw".

Some lenses produce better-looking sunstars than others. Looks like Joel used the Canon 16-35mm for this video. At f/22 this lens is famous for producing beautiful 14-point sunstars (7 blades x 2 rays for each blade in the lens iris).

So GND or HDR really have nothing to do with creating the "sunstar" - but they may help to balance the exposure between the shadows and highlights. Always a problem when shooting into the sun. In this video I'd guess Joel might have used a GND filter for these shots, but it doesn't look like HDR to me.


Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:33 pm
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:24 am
Posts: 2
Post Re: Shooting against the sun
Thanks for a good answer!

I run with Nikon, so I have no opportunity to test the Canon 16-35mm.

I use the Nikon 16-35mm and Nikon 14-24mm. For the most part, I use the Nikon 16-35mm with Lee filters. However, usually it become strange reflections of the filters when I have two GND. Really do not know why it gets reflectioner which are not looking good.

Maybe I should try to buy a SW150 filter holder for 14-24 because I think it be better sunstars.


Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:06 am
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