Stardust - An abstract of direct light on water (and a free video tutorial on enhancing sunstars)

For the past several years I’ve been exploring water textures and abstracts and it’s recently reached an obsessive level. Some nights I’m literally kept awake thinking about them and my girlfriend can attest to that.

I’ve been holding onto this one for a bit and have been heavily toying with the idea of releasing a very high quality, limited edition photobook containing my exploration of this subject thus far. But I just can’t keep looking at this one and continue to hold it close. It’s my favorite photo from this series and the third one I’ve put out on the internet for people to see. They aren’t on my website yet and I’m hoping I can get a book done before I get them all out there.

I’m terrible at holding my cards close.

I love how much there is to look at in this image. The sunstars and the light they are casting on the nearby water, the sparking dust on top of the water, the gerridae and the light hitting the water tension around his feet, and a bunch of less literal things like ninja eyes, smily faces, a dolphin, and many other things that reveal themselves if you let your imagination guide you.

Pertinent technical details or techniques to help others learn:

Nikon D610
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P FX
Burned retinas

If this is a composite please be honest with your techniques and share some details so others can learn:

This is a single shot processed in Adobe Camera Raw. I took it into Photoshop to enhance a single sunstar. I made a short video tutorial about it which you can view at the bottom of my video tutorials page:

Please do not critique this image. Galleries are for sharing and discussion only.

This is great, you can really get lost in this image. I love the contrast in the contour of the water and how the light from the stars interact with each line. Looking forward to that photo book. Good luck with those burned retinas!

Great image TJ! I got lost in this image like looking out into deep space.

I appreciate it @Mike_Brookbank! I agree about getting lost in the image and I just sharpened a 20x30 test print to be able to do it in ‘real life’. :joy: I’ve fully recovered from the burned retinas but since I shoot this kind of stuff obsessively… it’s going to happen again!

Thanks @Gareth_Coggan! It for sure reminded me of the cosmos. Glad you enjoy it!

I really liked this after viewing the large image. The 20x30 print should look great.
I was a bit surprised that at f/38 and iso 100 you could still get to 1/160! Must have been a bright day!

I thought so too @Bill_Pelzmann! But then… I was shooting direct light and basically ‘underexposing’ (in the general sense) so that the photo was more about the light than it was about the water. The white in the image is where the sky is reflecting as I was shooting this without a polarizer. The dark in the image is where, if I were to brighten the exposure, you could see the rocks through the water. Thanks for the kind words!

TJ, what a creative bit of seeing on your part, this is a very special image. To me this looks like a star field with nebula and gas clouds. The distribution of sunstars and shapes across the image is very pleasing and really allows your eye to wander across this image. I’m glad that you decided not to hold onto this one too long…

Your creativity continues to impress, TJ! I’m looking forward to checking out that sunstar video, thanks for making it.

Really well done. I would’ve been ‘afraid’ to try this. It’s the pattern of black and grey that makes this for me.