Photography tips

Emulate Motion Blur With Time Lapse

Want to smoothen the water/clouds or remove people from your image? You would normally need an ND filter to create the long exposure effect. But what if you don’t have one (an ND filter can be quite pricey)? Use time-lapse technique! Essentially, you take multiple images of the same frame at short intervals and stack them together in Photoshop to emulate the long exposure effect. Essentially, you take multiple images of the same frame at short intervals and stack them together in Photoshop. First, find a suitable scene where the elements you want to smoothen are moving. Clouds, water, people, cars, you name it. Next, mount your camera on a tripod and set your camera to continuous shooting in aperture priority mode. Start taking multiple images with the moving element in it. The key to time lapse photography is the interval between each image. It can be as short as one second in a fast moving element like water or clouds on a windy day. You may need to extend to three or four seconds if you want to remove people. You should take at least 20 images or more to achieve a smooth motion blur effect. Once you’re done, upload the images to your computer. Open up Photoshop, go to File > Scripts > Statistics. Browse and select all the images, change the “Stack Mode” to Median and check the box for “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images”. Hit OK and watch the magic happens!

Go Abstract With Kinetic Photography

Are you running out of creative ideas? Why not set yourself free by tossing your camera in the air? You read it right, TOSS your camera in the air! Kinetic photography may sound risky for you and your camera. It’s certainly not fun getting hit by a DSLR weight almost 1kg in the face, or worse, dropped on the ground! It’s definitely not for the fainthearted 🙂 What you do is to set your camera on a longer exposure, toss it in the air and let the motion do the work for you. To try out this technique, start with a small and lightweight lens such as a 50mm lens or a compact camera. Do it in a low light setting, use any artificial light around you to your advantage. Whatever you do, make sure safety comes first. You can focus the scene in aperture priority mode first, note the settings and dial it in manual mode. Because you’re tossing your camera up in the air, you want the shutter speed to be long enough for it to take off and land back in your hands. Experiment with the exposure to get the results that you like.

Revive Retro Effect With A Pinhole Camera

I mean a homemade pinhole camera. You need a camera body cap (costs a few dollars on eBay) and a few things you can easily get from a tool box. Your mission is to make a hole in the middle of the body cap. First, use a ruler to measure and locate the center of the cap. This step is extremely important as you’re essentially creating the aperture, which MUST be in the middle. Then, drill a hole through the center, the size is not important at this stage. You just need a hole. Now comes the crucial part: cut out a small piece of tinfoil (about 1cm x 3cm) and use a needle to prick a hole in the middle. The smaller the needle, the smaller the aperture. Position the tinfoil so that the pinhole is in the middle of the hole on the body cap and tape it down with gaffer tape. Before you attach the cap to your camera, check the inside of the cap to see if it’s shiny. Light reflects on shiny surfaces which will affect the exposure. If it is, cover all up with gaffer tape. Now you’re ready for some action! You’ll have to shoot in manual mode. You’ll have to experiment with the ISO and shutter speed to find a setting that gives you the best result. It’s a bit of trial and error really. Credit to Salvatore Cincotta from Behind The Shutter for the awesome tutorial.

Leverage The Golden Hour To Create Cool Silhouette

Silhouettes are among the coolest and easiest image you can take. There is something magical about the combination of a vibrant sky and the outline of the subject in shadow. It’s the perfect image at the end of a day. The best time to get a nice silhouette image is during sunrise or sunset when the sky is colorful. The key to capture a nice, strong silhouette is to get the light metering right. Set the light metering mode to spot metering (check your camera’s manual if you’re unsure). Your camera now calculates the exposure based on the light intensity in the circle at the center of the frame. This is in contrast with matrix metering (most of us set this as default) where your camera calculates the shutter speed based on the average exposure of the frame. Now, point the circle at the sky and lock the exposure. All you need to do now is recompose your image and press the shutter release.

Level Up Portraits With Levitation Photography

Getting bored with your portrait routine? Spice it up with levitation, it could be your next big thing! It is often used in creative self-portraits, although you can also work with models to create this effect. The concept is simple, you create an image of people that appears to be floating in the air :)) The easiest way to achieve this is to get the person to jump up from the ground, or jump down from a height while you snap an image when they are in mid-air (or use burst mode). This can be time-consuming and the possibilities are quite limited. A better idea is to mount your camera on a tripod and take an image after getting your model (or you) into position by lying or sitting on a stool, a chair or something that supports the weight. Take another image, but this time without the model. Now open up both images in Photoshop with the second image on top of the first one. Apply a black layer mask on the second layer and use a white paint brush to mask out the stool. Without it, your model looks like he is floating in mid-air. Wingardium Leviosa!

Master The Art of Illusion With Forced Perspective

You must have seen photos of tourists trying to balance the Leaning Tower of Pisa with their hands :)) The truth is, they were just holding their hands up in the air with the Tower of Pisa far away in the background. It is an optical illusion that makes your brain thinks otherwise. Forced perspective is an old camera trick that manipulates the human perception with optical illusion. For example, it makes objects appear larger or smaller, closer or farther than they actually are. There are really no rules with forced perspective photography. A useful tip is to ask your subject to move closer or farther to alter the perceived size and distance. You can also move your position and tilt your camera to look up or down to change the perspective. A useful tip is to ask your subject to move closer or farther to alter the perceived size and distance. You can also move your position and tilt your camera to look up or down to change the perspective. Be creative, think outside the box! I promise you’ll come out with trick photography ideas of your own!

Get Bokehlicious By Unfocusing Your Lens

Say what? If you are into abstract and bokeh, then you have to try this technique. You can create images filled with soft and beautiful bokeh that you can even use it as a background for your desktop or smartphone. Shooting for bokeh is dead easy, the technical part (not so difficult at all) is finding the right scene. I will explain. To shoot bokeh, switch your lens to manual focus and use the widest aperture in aperture priority mode. Now, find a scene with lots (the more the better!) of lights. The bigger the light source, the bigger the bokeh is going to be. Frame your image, manually turn the focusing ring until everything is blurred and take the shot. You can get different kinds of effect by experimenting with different lights and aperture.

Use Custom Shaped Bokeh To Create Memorable Photos

Bokeh doesn’t always have to be round (or technically, near round). It can be any shape you like and this is how to do it. Get a piece of card, cut out a shape in the middle of it. It can be any shape you want, be creative! Now trim the card to the size of your lens. Here’s another idea: Use a cleaned ice cream tub cover (e.g. Ben & Jerry’s) that can simply fit in front of your lens 🙂 You want to cut the shape just enough to fit within the largest aperture of your lens. How to check the size? Set the aperture to the widest and look right into your lens! Now, place the card in front of your lens, hold it in place with your hand or with a tape and you are good to go. Typically, this works well when there are plenty of lights. Take an image like you normally do and check it out. The bokeh have now taken the shape you cut out on the card! You can use this technique to create beautiful images or awesome personalized greeting cards that your friends and family will cherish.

Focus At The Hyperfocal Distance To Optimize Sharpness

While focus stacking may seem like the solution for front-to-back sharpness, there is another way. Don’t be deceived by the big words, hyperfocal distance essentially means the focusing distance that gives your image the greatest depth-of-field, which in return maximize the area of sharpness in your image. This technique works well if you do not have a subject very close to you in the foreground (if you do, focus stacking may work better). How to find the focusing distance for hyperfocal focusing? There is a reference chart! Use the focal length and the aperture you are shooting to determine the distance you need to focus. This chart is also available as a smartphone app. The tricky part is to locate the distance that you are going to focus. You can estimate it or use the focusing scale on the lens (mainly on older lenses). Once you have focused on the hyperfocal distance and taken the image, everything from half the distance of the hyperfocal length to infinity will be within the depth-of-field.

Getting the pose right

Figuring out the right portrait photography poses for your subject that portrays them in the most flattering way is always a new journey. Getting your subject to pose in a way that complements them while keeping in mind the lighting, camera angle, and background is always an exciting puzzle. Try out various combinations of poses and angles to find the best options for your shoot. After you have found the right pose for your subject, you can always make subtle changes to make every shot perfect.

Tip: Keep a gallery of creative portrait photography shots on your mobile phone. Keep adding benchmark photos to this gallery. It would help you big time in figuring out various options that can work in the shoot right there and then. Showing a visual example to the client would also help communicate better to them.