Creative Photography Techniques – Improve your skills

Hello Everyone

Do you know about steel wool photography or how to make beautiful pictures of waterfalls well, let’s learn some creative photography techniques which you can do even with a simple point and shoot camera and a tripod. Remember, having a tripod is a great advantage because we will be using a lot of long exposure shots and you cannot afford to have camera shake.

Photography is a very dynamic and broad field. You can go totally creative and capture some astonishing and pictures and the best part about this is you don’t need to be a pro.

Let’s get started!

What is Trick Photography?

Trick photography is not a genre of it’s own. It’s basically people getting creative with a camera. There are limitless possibilities when it comes to taking pictures using just a camera and a tripod. The only thing one needs to understand is to how to use this incredibly powerful tool to it’s maximum potential.

Trick Photography as the name suggests, is creating photographs which aren’t real or are depicting something impossible but they give an illusion to be real.

Let me show you what I mean

As we can see, there are no stars that shine that way. They are small, bright dots in the sky. But would you say, that this picture is not appealing?

Definitely not!!

Well, let’s have a look at another one.

You might have seen this kind of picture somewhere and wondered how do I capture those beautiful streaks of lights. Well, in this post I would be covering that too.

These photographs can be captured using the same gear as I mentioned below.

This is all you need!!

The gear which you will need here at this point of time is a camera and a tripod. Do not underestimate the usefulness of a tripod. It can really enhance your pictures and it is always a plus to make it a habit of using a tripod.

Using a DSLR certainly gives you more options to explore new ideas, if you are using a point and shoot, make sure that it has a bulb mode or manual mode so that you can adjust the shutter speed on it.

Optionally, you go in for an infra-red remote or a cable shutter release but at this stage it’s not really needed. Having some filters like an infrared filter or just a polarizing filter would be good.

Let your creativity flow!!

Now that you are set with your equipment, let’s dive in on learning how can you create your own digital masterpiece. Just keep in mind these techniques are just a few ideas on what you can achieve with a little creativity. Maybe after reading this post, you might come up with some of your very own ideas.

In this post I’m gonna talk about three techniques which you can implement right on.

  • Capturing Water Falls or Beaches
  • Steel Wool Photography
  • Light Painting

Capturing Water Falls

One could not help but admire such beautiful images. The water is so smooth and it almost seems like a picture from fantasy land, but how do you capture it.

For these type of pictures, we will be taking long exposures of somewhere around 1/5th of a second to 30seconds to create that smooth and blurry water pictures. I would highly recommend using an ND or a polarizing filter to cut out all the extra light.

Mount the camera on a tripod and make sure the shutter speed is low and the aperture is as small as it gets. For point and shoots check your manual on how to change these settings. Keep in mind that pressing the shutter button creates a small shake, in order to avoid that use a remote or use your inbuilt timer.

For better pictures, there is a mirror lock up mode in your DSLR, it locks the mirror up so that there is absolutely no shake when you press the shutter button.

Shoot a few pictures and get creative with the angles and shutter speeds to create some dramatic pictures. Remember, the longer the shutter remains open, the smoother the waterfall!

PS : The same technique can be applied for clouds and beaches too ;).

Steel Wool Photography

The picture shown at the top of this article is an example of steel wool photography. Steel wool is not some photography gimmick or a prop, it is the normal steel wool which you can get at your local hardware shop.

Take a small lump of steel wool and get a 9v battery. Tie the lump to a chain so that is hangs like a pendulum. Now, give it a swing in a circular manner. What you need to do is to rotate is continuously while it’s lit so that the sparks fly off in every direction.

Before lighting it make sure you are at a safe distance from the subject holding the pendulum. I would suggest going as wide as you can while composing the frame. Do not crop any part because you can always do that later. Doing it in a tunnel or in a big pipe can give some astonishing results.

Set up your camera and mount it on a sturdy tripod. Set it to high apertures like f/22, f/36 etc and set the shutter speed to 20-30 seconds that should give you enough time to let your creativity flow while the steel wool is lit.

Now, when you are ready use the 9v battery to rub it’s terminals on wool, the short circuit will light up the wool and you are good to go.


 

PS: To create orbs like in the last picture, turn yourself around 360 degrees while swinging the steel wool. Experiment, you’ll know what I mean.

Light Painting

In this technique, we will use colored lights (Led, Flashlights, practically any source of light can be used creatively) as paints.

Just like this…

The shutter speed of a camera can be used in various ways to capture pictures. While shooting long exposures, you need to lower your shutter speed and decrease the ISO to minimum.

Mount your camera on a tripod and make sure, it doesn’t move. Set the shutter speed to about 15 seconds or more. For point and shoots, use the bulb mode. Now, before you press the shutter, decide what you want to draw or paint. It can be your name, initials, or some shape or whatever, be creative.

Have a friend press the shutter and lock it in place using a cable shutter release and start painting with your flashlight in the air as if it were a canvas. Do not move all of your body, instead keep your motions minimal while painting. Also, make sure that camera doesn’t move at all. I would highly recommend using the timer in the camera. Set it to 2 seconds delay then shoot or use a remote control to avoid camera shake.

PS: If you don’t have a cable release to lock down the shutter button, here’s a nifty trick. Use a small eraser and fix it on the shutter button using a rubber band. The eraser should press down on the button by the force of the rubber band.

Conclusion

By this time, you might have got a fair idea of how these kinds of mysterious pictures are created. These are just a few techniques to get you started. I would recommend that you learn basic photoshop, so that these pictures can be enhanced. It really is an amazing and a very powerful tool.

In the end, remember that there is no right or wrong technique. If your technique works then it’s right. Just be creative and there are endless possibilities. Also, practice, practice and practice. Toy around with various setting, lights, various backgrounds and get out in the field, that’s the only way to make sure your technique works.

If you have any doubts or queries please leave a comment below and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Shashwat

Founder of TripodsforAll

24 thoughts on “Creative Photography Techniques – Improve your skills”

  1. I like to use a tripod for my phone, movie camera and GoPro. You can create a lot of pictures that are hard to get free hand. I like to take some time lapse pictures and produce movies from them for YouTube. Having a good Tripod will make all the difference in your results.
    I have never used the steel wool effect before, I do have several pieces in the garage. I will show this to my son and see if he want to try this when the weather is a little better. Thanks for the information.
    John

    1. Having a good tripod certainly improves you as a photographer.
      Sure, the steel wool effect is best in clear weather. If you have any doubts or questions regarding this, do let me know.

      Cheers

  2. I’m always amazed at how stunning some images are. You would think its CGI but its all the creation of an extremely skilled photographer! I just ordered a camera for my food site so I’m looking up some photography techniques to help me get started as a food photographer. I got a lot of helpful tips from your post, thanks for sharing.

  3. As a graphic designer, I often need to take pictures. And that is not something that I am great at! Your tips are awesome- exactly what I was looking for, I need to be able to take creative images. The lighting effects are stunning! Could these work with a cheaper camera? 

    1. Yes of course Hollie, even if you have an entry level DSLR you can shoot these pictures but a point and shoot may not be capable. You need to check your manual for shutter speed adjustments. If it allows you to manually change your shutter speed, then you are good to go.

      Glad you like the post.

  4. oh wow … this is so cool.  I didn’t realise that it’s easy enough for the likes of me to dabble in dramatic photography.

    I always admire the level of camera artistry I see some people achieve.  But think I now should scroll through more of your articles to school myself up on some photography techniques; start experimenting with what I can do with my home camera.  You make it sound doable, possible.  Think I’ve found me a new hobby.

    Thank you for the tips!

    1. It is totally doable Cath, all you need to do is go outside and shoot. Be creative and you will be amazed by the results. Let me know if I can be of some help.

  5. I long found realised the importance of tripod stands when I started doing videos for my YouTube. I use a smart phone though with a very good quality camera and mic. Seeing this article has left me in awe as to the magic that can be done with the simple presence of a tripod stand. But pls I would love to ask, does this work on mobile phone cameras too? I am rather ashamed of my question but please reply me. Thanks 

    1. There is nothing to be ashamed of, we all are learners. Let me quote a saying ” There are no stupid questions, there are only stupid people who don’t ask questions”.

      As for your question, Yes you can do it with your smartphone if it has a manual mode. But if you want good results go for a DSLR because the quality of images vary a lot.

      Happy to know you found it worth your while

  6. Dear Shashwat,

    I will have to go back to it a few times just to grasp all of that information. You definitely provided a post of great value.

    To be honest I just started to learn photography as a hobby and I am learning it from my friend who’s profession is photography. I got great insights from your post and being a newbie your post means a lot to me.

    You explained things very well and its really easy to understand. Just realized the importance of Tripod from your post and it’s on my list and need to buy it. I am going to gradually implement what I learned from your post.

    I am also going to share your post with my friend (Photographer) and I strongly believe he gonna find great value from your post.

    Much Success!

    Paul

    1. Hello Paul

      Thank you so much for the praise. I feel content whenever I find that people like you learned from my posts.
      Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

  7. Wow this is such an amazing article. I have had some experience using sparklers and long shutter exposure methods to produce some similar effects. I loved the steel wool idea together with a 9V battery as this never occurred to me to use.

    Do you have a preference in terms of manufacturer of SLR camera that gives the best results for these types of photos?

    Rich 

    1. Hello Richard

      First of all , I am glad that you found my post useful and you took the time to read it. As for your question, it is a very common question. I’m gonna tell you exactly what I tell everyone,

      IT IS NEVER ABOUT THE CAMERA, IT IS ABOUT THE PERSON BEHIND IT.”

      I personally prefer Nikon over other brands because of the colours that come out of it. You can look for Sony Alpha mirrorless series. They are a rage nowadays. I hope I have answered your question.

  8. This is really interesting. I always thought these kinds of effects were just photoshop. It’s quite interesting to know that there’s a lot of experimenting put into it to produce the effects that are then tweeted a bit to give us these lovely pictures. No knowledge is a waste really. Now I can be able to explain to my kids when they ask how those pictures were made. Nice! 

    1. Glad to know your kids find photography interesting. It is a very diverse form of art. The only limitation is you yourself. Photoshop, cameras, tripods are just tools, it is you who needs to be able to use them. 

      Keep shooting!

  9. Wow this is a very amazing trick! I’m in process of learning photography, particularly smartphone photography. However, I also check some tricks like this, because maybe I can apply it with smartphone (but reading various tricks above make me think that smartphone photography tricks will be very limited). Oh yes, is there any specific requirement for the tripod to create those tricks? My close friend is a photographer, so he will be very interested with performing the above tricks (especially the steel wool one). Thank you

    1. Hello

      You don’t need to have a very expensive tripod. A normal one will serve you well. It is just a tool.Also, I agree that a smartphone will limit your abilities to prosper. Let me know if you need help with anything about photography. If you want to know more about tripods click here.

  10. Wow! That’s a very great article. I love of photography. I learnt a lot from this article. I have learnt basic Photoshop. Photography is more of in built than learning because you can’t do it right or wrong. You just have to be steady when taking the pictures. How expensive are tripods stand?

  11. Your post is very helpful and solid. All the pictures you shared are fantastic and I especially like the trick on how you get the pictures. A perfect and stunning work . The trick you shared is very helpful. I will share your blog with my photographer. He can learn a lot from you. Keep up the good work 

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