Digital camera effects from A-Z

Digital camera effects from A-Z

26 digital camera effects and techniques to help you get more creative with your DSLR. From abstracts to zoom bursts, there’s sure to be an in-camera effect you’ll want to try.

Photoshop is great for enhancing and adding effects to your images, but nothing beats capturing it all in-camera in the first place. With that in mind, here’s our A-Z of 26 fantastic digital camera effects and tricks you can try today.

Digital camera effects from A-Z

A is for Abstract


What is it?

Arguably, all creative photography is about making the world look more abstract. Shooting in black and white, for instance, can be seen as a way of capturing a more abstract reality (as can many of the other camera effects in our A to Z). One of the simplest ways of finding abstracts, however, is to simply zoom in to include just a small part of the scene in front of you. The viewer sees familiar subjects in a fresh way, being forced to look closely to work out what he or she is looking at.

Special camera kit:
None

Shooting tips:
Look for patterns and bright colours, and then crop in close so these are shown in isolation.

 

B is for Bulb


What is it?

The B (or bulb) setting on your camera can only be accessed in Manual (M) exposure mode. It allows you to set super-long exposures lasting minutes – or even hours. The shutter stays open for as long as you keep the shutter release button pressed down. As such long exposures require a tripod, you need to use a remote cable release with a lockable switch to avoid jogging the tripod during the long exposure (find out how to Get the perfect exposure for light trails).

Special camera kit:
Cable release or remote (such as Canon’s RS-60 or Nikon’s MC-DC2)

Shooting tips:
For an interesting effect, shoot using the Bulb setting from the dashboard of a moving car to create an abstract pattern of lights. Use shutter speeds of around a minute at f/11, ISO100. Let someone else drive!

 

C is for Contre-jour


What is it?

Contre-jour is French for ‘against daylight’, and is used to refer to images taken directly into the main source of light. If you expose for the bright background the subject will invariably be ‘underexposed’, and may even be completely silhouetted, as in our example. If you expose for the subject, the background will be overexposed, and may produce a rim-light around the subject, which can be effective when shooting portraits (see R is for Rim light).

Special camera kit:
None

Shooting tips:
When shooting at sunrise and sunset, keep an eye out for shapes that might make for an interesting silhouette. Silhouettes make for very graphic images, emphasising line and shape at the expense of texture and detail.

 

D is for Dutch tilt


What is it?

Dutch tilt is simply changing the angle at which a photograph is taken. Tilting your camera is an effective way of making images look more dramatic: in motor sports, the track appears steeper and more exciting; in portraiture, a jaunty angle can create tension and help bring straightforward portraits to life (see more in our 10 rules of photo composition (and why they work).

Special camera kit:
None

Shooting tips:
Think about how much to tilt your camera, considering what elements to leave in and leave out. When there are horizontal lines in your shots, try angling your digital camera so they run diagonally to or from one of the corners.

 

E is for Edgerton


What is it?

Harold Edgerton is the pioneer of electronic flash and high-speed photography. Thanks to his work, it’s possible to freeze subjects using a burst of flash. A flashgun controls the amount of light it emits by how long it lasts. Its minimum setting, lasting about 1/50,000 sec, will allow you to capture water droplets and milk splashes with relative ease; the difficulty is in the timing. The same technique can freeze a speeding bullet – but the advantage of household liquids is that you can keep taking pictures until you get the shot you want, without the need for a specialist triggering system (make your own Amazing water drop photography).

Special camera kit:
Hotshoe flashgun with off-camera sync cable. Lots of spare batteries…

Shooting tips:
Set up the scene so that the drips are constant, with the exposure and focus set manually. This helps increase your hit rate – but expect lots of misses.