Capturing a sunburst in a photo adds a beautiful element to a landscape scene. It can get a little complicated to capture the same sunburst while shooting a portrait. Here’s how to photograph a sunburst and enhance it by adding Luminar’s Sunrays filter.

Backlight the subject with the sun

The first step is to use the sun to backlight the subject. The easiest way to determine camera settings is to use aperture priority. Set your camera to an aperture of f/16 —  this stops down the lens and makes the opening very small, causing the sunburst — and let the camera figure out the shutter speed. If the shutter speed is less than 1/60s increase the ISO so the shutter speed is between 1/125s and 1/160s. This will help avoid a blurry photo due to camera shake. The background along with the sunburst will look great, but the subject will appear too dark.

Use fill flash or a reflector

Now that the background looks great, it’s time to light the subject. A reflector can be used to bounce light back onto the subject. Although this is the easiest solution, it’s not always the best. You may have to lower your shutter speed and risk a blurry image due to camera shake. A better solution is to use flash.

Look at the camera settings from the first image, change the camera mode to manual and dial in the settings. Having a flash with TTL will eliminate the need to calculate the power and distance of the light — the flash handles this for you. Personally, I prefer to set the flash in manual mode starting with 1/8 power, position the light at a comfortable distance from the subject and use a light meter to accurately determine the settings.

This seems like a lot of work, but do this enough times and you will be able to predict the settings and capture the image correctly in-camera.

Applying Luminar’s Sunrays filter

Now that we have a beautiful sunburst, let’s enhance it with Luminar’s Sunrays filter.

Step 1: Open the image in Luminar. There are a few ways to open an image in Luminar. From the startup screen click the Open Image button or from the top toolbar click File and select Open. Browse your computer for the image, select it and click the Open button.

Step 2: Apply the Sunrays filter. On the Side Panel, click the Add Filter button in the Layers control. Scroll to the Creative section and select the Sunrays filter.

Step 3: Adjust the Sunrays settings. Start by selecting the Place Sun Center button and click on the middle of the sunburst. This will add a round pin to the image as a guide. Adjust the settings to your taste. Here’s a detailed description of each control.

  • Place Sun Center: Click this button to interactively nudge the sun’s position by dragging.
  • X: Moves the sun’s origin point along the X-axis.
  • Y: Moves the sun’s origin point along the Y-axis.
  • Sunrays Amount: Controls the overall intensity of the sun rays.
  • Sunrays Look: This changes the overall brightness of the scene.
  • Sunrays Number: Use a higher number for more rays and a lower number for fewer.
  • Sunrays Length: This impact the distance the sun rays will travel.
  • Sunrays Warmth: Use this slider to adjust the color temperature of the rays.
  • Sun Radius: This affects the size of the sun rays origin point.
  • Sun Glow Radius: This slider changes the size of the glow around the sun.
  • Sun Warmth: Can change the sun from bright white to a warm glow.
  • Overall Penetration: This slider impacts how much the sunlight passes through an area. This can be useful when trying to add natural looking rays to a photo.
  • Overall Randomize: Use this slider to get entirely new results that are a variation based on the current settings.

Step 4: Export or Share the image. Click the Share/Export button on the far right of the top toolbar to export or share the image.

The end result

By using a little photography knowledge and Luminar’s Sunrays filter we can easily enhance Mother Nature’s sunburst to create a beautiful portrait.