Photographing the Starburst Effect from your Christmas Tree Lights

As part of the Christmas festivities, it is typical for most everyone to set up at least one tree for Christmas. A good way to capture the beauty of your decorated tree is to do a starburst effect of the lights you put on it.

Here is our tree from a few years ago that we bought and set up in our living room. It’s a simple tree with just enough decorations.


Notice that each lightbulb is “sparkling” in the photo. That is the starburst effect. You can do that with your tree. You’ll need your DSLR camera and a tripod (or a sturdy surface to set your camera on). It’s best to use a prime (fixed focal length) lens but any lens will do. A zoom lens will show the starburst but much smaller burst. Also, it’s best to use clear lights as opposed to different colored lights.

Set your camera and focus right on the center of tree. Make sure any other lights in the room or nearby is turned off. The only light should be coming from the tree. On your camera, adjust your settings to the following:

  • Set aperture anywhere between f/11 to f/16
  • Set your shutter speed to 4-6 seconds
  • Set ISO to 200

In order to avoid camera shake, it’s best to set your shutter to a delayed timer. I used my 10 second delayed timer. That allowed me 10 seconds from the time I pushed the shutter to when the camera actually took the photo.

You can also do close-up shots with the same settings.


I hope this was very helpful in capturing your “sparkling” tree!

Ophelia James headshotThis post was written by Ophelia James.

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