Taking family pictures can become boring after a while. You have this awesome digital camera and you are quickly running out of subjects or ideas for new projects. Trick photography can take an ordinary image and turn it into something spectacular. Sometimes these techniques are difficult to replicate, but most of them are easy to do at any skill level. If you are just starting out in photography, check out the Beginner’s Jumpstart Guide to Photography before trying some of these techniques.
In fact, some trick photography techniques have become so popular that they have been added into many modern digital cameras automatically. This makes it even easier to capture unique images and rejuvenate your interest in photography once again.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
HDR is a technique that combines several photos into one shot to increase the images dynamic range. Dynamic range is defined as the level of exposure between the light and dark areas of image. A photo with a low dynamic range will have areas of dark shadow with bright highlights while a high dynamic range photo will be evenly balanced and provide extra detail about your subject that is simply not present in a normally exposed photograph.
Many modern cameras have HDR already included in the software. By simply turning the effect on, the camera actually takes three pictures of your subject. One picture is underexposed, one is overexposed, and one is properly exposed. By combining these pictures, you get a very vivid photograph that is difficult to replicate using any other method.
If your camera does not have HDR functionality, don’t sweat it. Photoshop has an excellent HDR effect that can combine images for you. There are also other software programs designed to create HDR images as well, but Photoshop takes the cake. You can learn more about using HDR in the HDR Photography Tutorial.
Tilt Shift Miniature Effect
Have you ever seen a photograph that looks like it is a picture of miniature figurines? Many times, photographers use this trick photography technique to create this miniature effect that looks like a picture of a diorama.
This technique is accomplished by using a tilt shift lens, which allows you to control perspective in your image by adjusting the lens in front of the sensor to create a very shallow depth of field. The effect is enhanced further by using a lens with a very wide aperture which puts certain objects in sharp focus while others are blurred.
The strange and unnatural perspective created in these photographs can fool most viewers into thinking you spent hours creating a scale model of a busy city street or a park for the shot.
Sometimes also known as a perspective control lens, tilt shift lenses are available for most popular digital SLR cameras. Since a tilt shift lens may be outside of your budget, there are also software programs that can create the tilt shift effect in your images. It’s worth noting that the effect will not be as striking when you use software to create this effect, but it is better than not having this option at all. You can use Photoshop to create tilt shift look-alike images on your home computer during postprocessing. Photoshop Photographic Effects teaches you more about tilt shift and other special effect filters.
Long Exposure Photography
This trick has become very popular with nature photographers because it adds a striking quality to moving water that can complement almost any natural landscape photograph. Long exposure photography is also used extensively at night or in low light conditions. You might decide to use long exposure times to capture moving lights at night, spinning carnival rides, or fireworks.
To use this technique effectively, you must use a tripod. When your shutter is open for 10 – 15 seconds or more, there is not a hand steady enough in the world to keep your images from getting blurry. In many cases, a few seconds exposure time is all that’s required. Other times, you may want to keep the shutter open for a longer period of time. One professional photographer recently captured three years of construction in a single image. Yes – he left the camera shutter open for three years!
Long exposure photography can create some dramatic results when used properly. You will have to experiment with different exposure settings to find what works in a particular situation. You can also take a Long Exposure Photography course which teaches you valuable long exposure techniques.
Rear Curtain Sync
This is a technique that allows you to show movement in an image using your flash. This trick is sometimes also known as Slow Sync. In a regular flash photograph, the flash fires when the shutter opens to freeze the subject right at the beginning of exposure. This tends to light up your subject but darkens the background. Using the Rear Curtain setting (found on most digital SLR cameras), two flashes are fired. One is at the beginning like normal and another occurs right before the shutter closes. The short amount of time between the two flashes creates blurred lines (trails) in your photograph that suggest movement.
This technique requires practice to get right and every shot will not come out correctly so plan on taking quite a few pictures using different shutter speeds for the best results.
These are considered “basic” photography tricks that can definitely spice up your pictures while teaching you valuable skills that you can then apply to more advanced trick photography techniques.
Some trick photography techniques require special settings on the camera (such as Rear Curtain Sync) while others can be accomplished either on camera or during postprocessing. As always, the best way to learn a new photography technique is to practice it, analyze your results, and make adjustments as necessary until you find the perfect look for your new trick photography project.