If you’re stuck for something to do this weekend why not give a new photography technique a try?
1. Light Graffiti
Light graffiti is everywhere at the moment and is a fantastic to way to get creative with light trails at night. Set up your camera on a tripod, with ISO of between 400-800. During the exposure you’ll want to ‘draw’ an image or word with a beam of light such as glow stick, torch or sparkler for example.
Dial in an exposure long enough for you to complete the word or image, and start the release with the self-timer. Get in front of the lens and start drawing. To finish the image hold the torch steady and turn it off, then move out of the frame. Check the LCD for results and amend the shutter speed as required. It’s advisable to wear black so you do not show up within the photo and remember to move quickly or you’ll be captured within the scene. Coloured gels or coloured plastic sweet wrappers can be taped over the end of the torch to add a variation of colour.
2. Shutter Zoom
This is a fun technique to try or any composition where you want to enthuse dram or action. For this to work you’ll need a DSLR or hybrid camera with a zoom lens. First of all set your ISO as low as possible and dial in a small aperture of around f22 for a longer exposure. Isolate a subject – for example a willing model, a beautiful blooming flower, an insect, etc and focus on and meter from this. Next compose so the subject is positioned in the centre of your frame.
Unwind your lens so it is zoomed out as far as possible. As soon as you hit the shutter use your left hand to scroll the lens back in. Check the LCD to judge your results and experiment with the speed at which you zoom in to create different effects. Also try starting with the zoom as wide as possible and during the exposure zoom in to your subject for a variation of results. Learn more about using the Zoom Effect techniques here.
3. Smoke Signals
Light a couple of joss sticks and let it smoulder until a well-defined stream smoke is generated. Place these in a josh stick holder in front of a dark (or light) piece of card. To capture the enchanting swirls and shapes tape the edge of the holder to the table and let the stick vibrate. For extra flair use a flashgun to light the smoke and play adjust the colours or composition in an editing suite.
Learn more about Smoke Art Photography.
4. Painting with Light
This is a fun technique to try out at night and is an ideal way of adding light to the scene to enhance a particular immobile object, such as a tree, rock face, bench etc. Position your camera on a tripod and ramp up the ISO to around 400. Dial in a shutter speed of 15-20 seconds and to avoid camera jog, use the self timer to activate the shutter. During the release, light your subject with a beam of light from a torch and ‘paint’ with the light to ensure the entire object has been covered.
For a great resource on Light Painting check out Night Photography and Light Painting.
5. Kite Cameras
Aerial photography can be quite an art, and creating it often an expense. However there is a cheap solution – kite cameras. If you fancy something a little fun, and own a particularly durable compact or camera you aren’t too worried about beating up, then give kite photography a shot. Unless your compact comes with a remote control shutter release, hitting that trigger is going to be problematic whilst it is up in the air but there are two options to solve this.
Either use the video recording mode (if the compact has one) and hit record before launching the kite, and later cut stills from the footage in a dedicated app like Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie. The alternative is to set the self timer – preferably for as long as possible. Set the camera to burst or sports mode as this may allow you take several shots in one go and use a fast shutter speed (1/500 or higher) to avoid movement streaks. Finally use strong tape to ensure it’s strapped on well and bring it down as gently as possible. All you need know is a windy day!
Share Your Shots
Once you’ve tried some of these techniques we’d love to see what you come up with – feel free to share your best results in comments below!