Get Familiar with the Basics of Trick Photography and Special Effects!
Do you want to take mind-blowing photos that will have heads turning? Learning the secrets of trick photography and special effects is a great way to take your images to the next level. With the advent of Photoshop, the magic of trick photography and special effects runs the risk of being forgotten. But computer-generated images can never quite compare to the wonder generated by camera tricks.
Trick photography refers to the use of multiple exposures and other processing techniques that add unique and unusual imagery to your photographs. The use of special effects, such as props, scenery, and scale models, can also create a world in your photos that makes them more than meets the eye. With a little bit of instruction and a lot of experimentation, you’ll be taking incredible photos using household items and other inexpensive tools.
Types of Photos
Using just a flashlight or laser pen, you can make amazing “light painting” photos that look like something you’d see in a museum. Highlight your subjects with a wash of color and neon that is more brilliant than any fireworks display.
With simple changes to the settings of your DSLR camera, you can learn to capture infrared light to make unbelievable images, including landscape shots that look like gorgeous paintings. And by tweaking the color settings of your camera, you can choose which hues to make “pop” in your photograph.
Other setting changes can help you “freeze time,” taking high speed photographs that show all the details of a child jumping into a swimming pool or a slugger hitting a home run. Want a slow shot instead of a quick shot? Long exposure photographs can give you beautiful star trails of the changing sky at night.
In addition to learning the secrets to stitching together several shots to make a panorama that looks untouched, you can also use photo tricks to make a unique 360-degree panorama image that gives the viewer the sense of being right inside your photograph.
Using special effects, you can make “invisible man” photography—showing the clothes without the person inside. Or, clone your subject so the same person is pictured multiple times within the same scene.
Did you know that you can take 3D images using just your point-and-shoot camera, without any special equipment or software? Learn the perspective tricks that allow you to capture an impossible-looking photograph based on where you stand and how you hold the camera.
Equipment You’ll Need
Forget about spending money on an expensive camera and a suite of lenses. Instead, buy a basic, entry-level DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera). Though it’s important for a photographer to have some type of retouching software, forget spending over $700 for Adobe Photoshop. Most special effects and tweaks can be done using the less expensive Photoshop Elements for just a fraction of the price.
In addition to the camera and software, a tripod is necessary for setting up images. Even if you think you’re holding your hands steady, in actuality it’s impossible to get a completely still shot without the help of a tripod. Obviously, you’ll also need a computer with plenty of storage space to upload, edit, and archive your photos.
Understanding Your Camera
Learning how your camera works is a critical first step in learning how to use trick photography and special effects. The most important elements for mastering these skills are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO speed.
Shutter speed refers to the length of time that your camera shutter opens when you take a photograph. Though most cameras have an automatic shutter setting, switching to manual and learning how to best choose a shutter speed can mean the difference between blurry photographs and gorgeous works of art. You can use a quick shutter speed to clearly capture a car in motion, or a longer shutter speed to show it as a blur to indicate motion. Shutter speed also controls exposure—how much light is let into your picture. Experiment with varying your shutter speed to learn about the effects it creates.
The aperture is the opening in your camera’s lens when you click the shutter. You can change the aperture width, letting more or less light into your photograph. This alters the focus of the image you’re taking; a wider aperture works better for portraits and close-up images, while a small aperture is desirable for landscapes and other wide shots. As with shutter speed, varying the aperture of your photographs can create interesting effects.
ISO speed refers to the type of film that you use for images. Film with a lower ISO speed requires more light exposure to create an image, while “high-speed” film can create a photograph with less light exposure, so it’s good for taking photos in the dark. Different types of film produce different effects.
With basic knowledge of photography and a little practice, you’ll be adept at creating the kind of amazing images that are sold as art prints and available from stock photography studios. Whether you view photography solely as a hobby or you’re interested in making into a career, learning photography tricks and becoming skilled and special effects will greatly expand the repertoire of photos you’re able to take.