Three Cool Camera Tricks You Can Try This Weekend

By Cheryl Bigman in San Ramon, CA On the second night of the Charleston Photography Workshop, after the sunset shoot, professional photographer, Shelly Perry, and I decided to take a leisurely walk back to the hotel rather than take a cab.  We wanted to see the charming homes of Charleston by night — and, of course, snap a few pictures along the way. We walked for hours oohing and aahing at everything we saw.   And finally, we stumbled upon a beautifully lit fountain in the park. I broke out my tripod while Shelly made her own out of a backpack. 

No sooner had I shot some of those wonderful “smooth water” images we all love, when Shelly asked excitedly, “Do you want to try something cool?” How could I refuse an offer like that?!  This was the third workshop I’ve attended where Shelly was an instructor.  Her photos make me envious so, of course, I want to learn everything I can from her. She then proceeded to show me two very cool tricks. Take a look at this first shot…

3 Cool Camera Tricks

We decided to call this “The Barrel Roll.” This shot was taken at f8 with a 30-second exposure. To do it, put your camera in either Shutter Priority or Manual Mode and set your camera up on a tripod with a 30-second exposure (check your manual if you don’t know how to do that). Then, focus on your subject, holding the shutter button halfway down, and recompose if necessary. Zoom your lens all the way in. Press the shutter and slowly zoom back out over the span of 20 seconds. Let go and stay zoomed all the way out for the last 10 seconds of your 30-second exposure. This will give the object, the fountain in this case, some actual definition. Variations:  Try the same technique again, but this time start your zoom halfway out and see what you get.  You could also try changing the speed at which you zoom out. This next trick is called “Ghosting”…

This shot was also taken at f8 with a 30-second exposure. You set up your camera the same way you would for The Barrel Roll.  Have a person stand in front of your subject, making sure he or she is well lit from behind. Focus, pressing the shutter button halfway down, and recompose if necessary. 

Have your “ghost” step out of the picture during the last 10 seconds of exposure.  (You can play with the timing on this for a variety of results… notice, you don’t see the “ghost” walking in or out or the arms which were slowly moving during the shot.) Don’t have a fountain?  These techniques will work with other types of light too.  Here’s another one… This one I took in Paris at my first photography workshop with AWAI…

This shot was taken at f4.5 with a 1-second exposure. Without a tripod, set up your camera for a 1-second exposure. Focus on your subject, pressing the shutter button halfway down, and recompose if necessary. Press the shutter and quickly move your camera in the direction you want your “rays of light” to go. 

In the example above, I moved my camera up and to the right.  Try moving yours in different directions and see what happens.  You’re only limited by your imagination, so don’t be afraid to play with this one!

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