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Hello! Any advice on the camera settings, positioning, time of day, specific gear/setup etc., to get the perfect sun burst?

I managed to get a couple, but I will admit it was a function of good luck...

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This is a classic problem of balancing flash and ambient exposure.   First rule is maximum shutter speed up to your camera's flash sync limit, plus minimum ISO to allow you to pull back the exposure and avoid blowing out the sunburst.  Stop down probably f11- 22 on a full frame to pull back exposure further , get your ambient exposure right within these guidelines first.  This means you need plenty of flash power to light up your foreground subject.  Shoot RAW - it gives you much more flexibility in handling highlights.

Time of day matters too, it's easier to frame your foreground subject with the sunburst when the sun is lower in the sky.  You can also look at placing the sun just outside the frame so you get the rays without the blown out sun itself.

If you are shooting ambient with fish schools or something similar in silhouette, it's easier - just meter on the water away from the sunburst.

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Terrific description, Chris. Thanks!

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Expose for the highlight of the sunball...and if need be, pull the shadows back in post.

To get clean light rays, get as shallow as possible. A fast shutter speed helps here too. Some of the newer strobes offer high speed sync, which is worth experimenting with for this.

Ideally, low sun in either early morning or late afternoon as the sun loses its power, together with as flat a sea as possible. Waves break up the sun rays...

When shooting silhouettes, switch strobes off.  I actually meter on the brightest part of the scene again.

When the opportunity for a great sunball presents itself I will often set the shot up without a subject and just wait for a suitable subject to swim into the frame!

 

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Thank you all! That is very helpful :)

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Posted (edited)

Another way to use the sun burst is to place it behind a subject to reduce/eliminate/avoid the super bright area that result in a huge brightness range and make it more difficult for the camera to cope with.

Of course it is easier with a stationary subject (like a a coral head, an hangover, soft coral, a spirograph) but can also be done with big fish (like a whaleshark, a mantaray, any other big fish, or a fish ball,. You can use also a boat or a canoe.

Its a way to place the sun inside but outside the frame .

Edited by pbalves
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