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?
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.
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.
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.
Founder of TripodsforAll