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Starburst At Sunrise
CREDIT: Alan Hodgson ASIS HonFRPS

Learning by doing

Exercising my Aperture project

Up and out into the garden at 4am for some pre-dawn twilight images of the planet Venus. I have been recording the phases of Venus as they change day by day. But at the same time I have been using Venus as a test object for my Aperture project, producing starburst features from bright point objects.

One of the great virtues of twilight photography is that in general, things happen slowly as you wait for the clouds, climate and lighting to be in the right place. In this respect it has a lot in common with some other genres, particularly landscape. So you get a lot of thinking time.

I had my 300mm lens in use which I had previously been investigating for my starburst work, rapidly becoming my favourite lens. As I was waiting for another gap in the clouds I started to think about a starburst shot, this time with the rising sun. The opportunity was literally in front of me as in midsummer the sun rises above a small wood on the opposite side of the valley.

As the sun rises above the trees it changes very quickly, from a bright point source gradually growing into an object that would be much bigger and brighter. Point sources give the sharp clear diffraction spikes I had captured in a previous image of Venus. Larger objects, like the rising sun will give more diffuse ones.

And thus was born a quick exercise in understanding. If I shoot a sequence of images as the sun rises through a tight gap in the trees I should see a change from sharp to diffuse spikes as the sun rises.

Aperture set to f/22 to maximise the diffraction spikes and it worked. Here is the last in the sequence showing progressively more diffuse spikes, finishing before the rising sun got too bright. A check on my understanding and a little fun to end the twilight.

For those that cannot get out to a suitable location don't forget you can do starburst effects in indoor photography too.

Nikon D750 at ISO 100 and 1/30s. Nikkor ED manual lens set to f/22.