Portrait technique: shoot a creative starburst environmental study

Peter Fenech
Before: Prior to stopping down, street lights appear as ‘blobs’ of light within the image and fail to have the creative impact we desire for this image (Image credit: Future)

Low light shots in towns and cities offer a multitude of creative opportunities and exposure challenges in equal measure. High contrast between the dark environment and bright artificial light can make calculating exposure tricky. However, this contrast allows artistic use of very defined points of light, such as car headlights and street lamps, to produce photographs with added interest. A popular technique is to use the diffractive properties of very narrow aperture settings to render these lights as eye-catching ‘starbursts’, which can be used to create images with a dreamy, fairytale atmosphere.

More: What is exposure?

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Peter Fenech

As the Editor for  Digital Photographer magazine, Peter is a specialist in camera tutorials and creative projects to help you get the most out of your camera, lens, tripod, filters, gimbal, lighting and other imaging equipment.

After cutting his teeth working in retail for camera specialists like Jessops, he has spent 11 years as a photography journalist and freelance writer – and he is a Getty Images-registered photographer, to boot.

No matter what you want to shoot, Peter can help you sharpen your skills and elevate your ability, whether it’s taking portraits, capturing landscapes, shooting architecture, creating macro and still life, photographing action… he can help you learn and improve.