By on 2012-11-15

You’re only scratching the surface of photography when you’re simply snapping photos. This weekend, try certain photo techniques such as learning to paint with light, create amazing star trails, and alter space and time as we know it.

Note: For those of you with Canon point-and-shoot cameras, consider installing CHDK to add extra features. Doing so will allow you to accomplish the techniques described in this post much more easily. DSLR owners, on the other hand, are good to go, but some can still add a few awesome features with Magic Lantern.

Play With Time

medium Photo Tips to Practice this WeekendTime-lapse photography offers some pretty amazing opportunities. For starters, star trails—achieved by a long exposure of the night sky—make for beautiful images every time. For the most part, it simply takes patience. (Check out this guide for full instructions.)

Of course, you can do plenty more by playing with time. Long exposures create all sorts of effects beyond capturing the stars in a unique light. You can experiment with longer exposures when moving the camera or keeping it still. If you’re capturing images when there’s plenty of light, be sure to lower your ISO/film speed and stop down your lens’ aperture to a higher f-stop (e.g. f/22). This will allow less light to hit the sensor so a longer exposure won’t overexposure your photo as quickly.

You don’t have to stop at photos, either. Time lapse videos—the process of taking a photo at set intervals and combining them all into one motion sequence—are extremely compelling. While we haven’t tackled the subject in-depth, Photojojo created a great guide. All you really need is an intervalometer, your camera, and some time, but getting everything set up just right takes a little work. Canon camera owners can use custom firmware CHDK or Magic Lantern to make the creation of these time lapse videos even easier.

Paint With Light

medium Photo Tips to Practice this WeekendLightpainting is similar to time lapse photography, in that it utilizes long exposures to create special effects with light. That said, lightpainting involves you creating the special light patterns with glow sticks, flashlights, or any other source. As you can see with the picture to the right, these man-made effects can be pretty stunning. To learn more, read this post. It contains a helpful video that explains the entire process. If your camera can handle long exposures, you can go out and do this any night with a friend. It’s really fun!

Make Your Own Bokeh

medium Photo Tips to Practice this WeekendBokeh—the out-of-focus area of your photos—generally looks like a bunch of basic shapes. Some lenses offer nice smooth circles while others create harsher, angled shapes. If you create your own bokeh, you can make any shape you want (like the hearts in the images to the right). Just take some paper, cut out a shape, and strap it to your lens. With that simple trick, you’ll make some really cool, out-of-focus images.

Transplant Your Subjects

medium Photo Tips to Practice this WeekendSometimes you’ve got a great location and a great subject, but they’re not in the same place. With photo editing software, that’s no problem. All you need to do is shoot your subject on a green screen and transplant them anywhere you like. Building your own green screen is actually really cheap and easy. (I made one several years ago over the weekend and made a lot of fun things with it.) If that’s too much work, your computer monitor (or any screen, really), can do the trick for smaller objects.

Create 3D Images

medium Photo Tips to Practice this WeekendI’m not a big fan of 3D. That said, the gimmick can be fun when you’re making your own images and don’t need any special equipment to view them. While imperfect, this easy trick can offer the illusion of a 3D photograph by simply alternating between two frames at a high speed. It’s no amazing feat, but it’s a pretty cool trick that anybody can see.

Create a Photosynth

medium Photo Tips to Practice this WeekendWhat is a photosynth? It’s like a panoramic photo, but in all directions. Microsoft created the concept and software to help you make them. Essentially, you take your camera and go somewhere, then snap tons of pictures in every direction. After that, all you really have to do is upload them with Microsoft’s photosynth tool and you can navigate through 3D-like space. It’s a neat way to experience a place that offers more depth than a traditional still image. For a full walkthrough on how to do this (with video!), check out our guide.

Have an awesome weekend everybody! Share any cool photos you take in the discussions below!

This post was originally posted on LifeHacker.com by Adam Dachis on Sept, 28, 2012.

Related Topics

Categories: How to;
Tags: Lighting Techniques;
Brands: LifeHacker, Westcott Basics, and Westcott Pro;
Topics: Compositing & Green Screen

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