I'm using Nikon D750 DSLR camera.

How can I capture the rays of light as represented in these two black and white photographs?

I mean in terms of ISO, aperture and shutter speed and filter use.

child in doorway illuminated by rays of light from above by Fan Ho


people in large hall lit up by rays of light from windows by Hal Morley


2 Answers 2


The first step is to find a situation where the atmosphere is right for such effects to appear to the naked eye - whether it's steam or fog or dust or whatever else in the air that is reflecting the light. Once you have that, the lens, aperture, shutter and ISO don't matter as much, as long as the combination chosen results in a good exposure and the intended framing. Gear doesn't create the subject matter, it just captures it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Correct. Smoke in a can is an option. \$\endgroup\$
    – Belle
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 4:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it's not clear to me that the OP realises - this isn't an "effect"; this is just how the scene appears to the naked eye. Find such a scene and just photograph it. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. You'd need to correctly expose the scene though, so not every combination of aperture/shutter speed/ISO would do. The camera will probably have trouble understanding which part it should expose correctly, so you have to either use spot metering or manual mode. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2018 at 9:37

One other thing apart from twalberg's answer is that you need to also be mindful of the focus area, and control the exposure suitably. If you notice in the examples you have posted, the exposure around the light rays are high whereas the start to fall off and darken on the outer edges. This highlights the light ray and makes it pop in the photo.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thans for your reply. Does that mean in my example photo they focus on the area around light rays? \$\endgroup\$
    – neversaint
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 7:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ You have to play around with the focal point or chose multiple points, and see what brings the best of the rays. But yes, closer to the rays would be a good try \$\endgroup\$
    – sigmabeta
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 7:54

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