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Celebrating The Summer Solstice With Epic Sun Star Images

Summer Solstice is officially upon us, as earlier this week on June 21 we hit the longest day of the year. According to National Geographic, “Solstices occur because Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted about 23.4 degrees relative to Earth's orbit around the sun. This tilt drives our planet's seasons, as the Northern and Southern Hemispheres get unequal amounts of sunlight over the course of a year. From March to September, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted more toward the sun, driving its spring and summer.”  As photographers, we're driven by light, and events like these play a role in our ability to make something cool. To that end, we've pulled together a selection of sun star images, an effect created by light passing through the small aperture and being diffracted across the aperture blades inside the lens making a starburst. The primary factor for creating sun stars is the lens choice and the aperture setting. Take a look at the images below to see if something sparks your imagination. And for more photography inspiration, be sure to follow @SonyAlpha on Instagram.

This week we hit the longest day of the year…check out these images with beautiful sun stars to celebrate the sun staying out a little bit longer.

Erin Sullivan - @ErinOutdoors

Sony Brand Ambassador Erin Sullivan is a photographer with a deep love for nature, imagination, travel, and meaningful stories from all over the world. She shared this image on Instagram made in Tuscany. We love the position of it in the frame. The leading lines of the trees draw your eye upwards and then catch on the burst of light. To make this image, Erin used her Sony Alpha 1 and Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II. In the caption, she states “I can’t put into words the peace I feel among trees.” And that peace comes across well in this image.

Stevin Tuchiwsky - @stevin

Stevin Tuchiwsky is a Sony Brand Ambassador. As an outdoor lifestyle photographer capturing images in adventure, sports, and landscapes, there’s never a dull moment on his Instagram. He made the image below at Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in British Columbia. The scene itself is clearly gorgeous but it’s elevated even more with the presence of the sun star. The viewer's eye follows the gaze of the person in the center of the frame, out to the light. Then their eye moves throughout the rest of the frame, around the lake.

Scott Kranz - @scott_kranz

Scott Kranz is based in Seattle and a Sony Brand Ambassador. He’s become well-known for his outstanding travel images, and long treks through the mountains. Check out his travel photography tips HERE. The images below are from one of those long treks, this time in a wintry landscape. We believe two elements in this image really make it outstanding, the first is the light cast across the snow in the front of the frame. The second is the sun star bursting through the mountain, dwarfing the skier. One of the commenters of the post relates it to a jewel in the sky and we couldn’t agree more. Scott typically shoots with the Sony Alpha 1 and Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master or the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master.

Michael - @abstract.impact

Michael is a photographer based in Austria. He is a hobbyist who focuses on travel and architecture photography. Scrolling through his Instagram showcases his talent with graphic, black and white photos. The image below is a great example of that, the harsh contrast of the shadows next to the sun burst creates tension within the shot, adding to the storytelling element. If you swipe, you can see the color version of the image. In our opinion, the black and white is much more successful and powerful.

Nate Luebbe - @nateinthewild

Nate Luebbe is another Sony Brand Ambassador travel and adventure photographer whose feed is full of wildlife, landscapes, and astroscopes that are vivid and exciting. He has a talent for creating an image that is colorful, fluid and full of life. We love the bright and vibrant image below, which includes a subtle sun star in the left hand side of the frame. As viewers, our eyes go to the brightest spot and then travel beyond that. It may take a moment or two to even realize there is a person in the shot. This image makes us ready to pack our bags and visit Utah!

Marcus Westberg – @marcuswestbergphotography

Marcus Westberg is a Swedish nature and wildlife photographer as well as a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). He is also a Sony Alpha Europe Ambasador. Westberg travels throughout Europe and Africa telling stories of the natural world and people working to protect it. The post below is from a trip he took to Bhutan. He described the trip stating, “Bhutan, the last independent Himalayan kingdom - now a constitutional monarchy - is a beautiful country, well aware of its vulnerabilities as well as its strengths. I’ve enjoyed it all immensely, from wonderful human encounters to the stunning scenery and unique culture.” The first image is of a well-known scene, so the addition of the sun burst helps make this image stand out against similar ones.

Kyle Obermann  – @kyleobermann

Kyle Obermann is a photographer and filmmaker who is known for his work in conservation, storytelling and adventure. Kyle is also a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Kyle shares stories of conservation efforts in China, often bringing grassroots conservation to a larger audience and showcases on the ground heroes protecting species and places. We also love following along on his adventures trail running and climbing mountains. The photo below is of Hong Kong, Kyle describes this experience, “This landscape felt totally out of place from Hong Kong’s usual lush and forested country parks. Tucked behind 青山, Castle Peak, lies a maze of steep trails, shallow hills, and eroded gullies eating away into the mountains. The gullies themselves are incredible to explore, hiding carnivorous pitcher plants and rose colored granite.” Kyle typically shoots with the Sony Alpha 9 along with most-used lenses: the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master and the Sony 70-200mm f/4 G.

Ganesh Bagal - @ganesh__bagal

​​Sony India Brand Ambassador Ganesh Bagal focuses on wedding and travel photography. He describes his work saying, “Travel was another passion and I was always amazed by the play of light created by mother nature. My love for photography helped me in capturing those magical moments.” Ganesh shoots with the Sony Alpha 7R III, Sony Alpha 7 III, and a wide selection of lenses including Sony 12-24mm f/4 G, Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master, and Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. The framing in this image is wonderful, and made even better with the addition of the sun star on the left side of the photo. Details like this is what separates a typical travel documentation image from a work of art.

Michael Schaake - @michael_schaake_photography

Sony Europe Imaging Ambassador Michael Schaake is a landscape and nature photographer from Germany. His Instagram is full of beautiful landscapes from all over the world. If you’re looking for an Instagram account to fuel your wanderlust, look no further. The long exposure of the photograph below, with the rushing water and the sun burst are exceptional. This photo was made at a nature preserve in Sweden and we love all the storytelling elements included in the shot.

George McKenzie Jr - @georgemckenziejr

George McKenzie Jr. is a National Geographic Society award-winning visual storyteller from Brooklyn, NY, who specializes in wildlife, natural history, and conservation. With over 10 years of experience, George is well-versed in producing stories with an impact that focus on human interests around the world. When he’s not working on his next wildlife story, George is an educator in his local community, mentoring rising young people of color around the world. He’s currently based in Florida, making stunning images of nature and wildlife, which is where he made the image below.

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