Digital camera effects from A-Z

Digital camera effects from A-Z

F is for Fisheye


What is it?

A fisheye is a specialist wide-angle lens that produces a distorted image with an extreme angle of view. There are two types of fisheye lens: full-field fisheyes fill the whole frame with an image that bows out at the edges; circular fisheyes are more extreme – giving a round, central image with a 180° angle of view, such as the shot below.

Special camera kit:
We used a Sigma 4.5mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Circular Fisheye, which costs £575, but which can be hired for under £50 for a week from the likes of www.lensesforhire.co.uk.

Shooting tips:
Use Partial metering when using a circular fisheye – and take great care not to scratch the bulbous front element.

 

G is for Grain


What is it?

In the days before digital, ‘grain’ was the term used to describe the granular clumps in the film emulsion. In digital photography, it describes the visible electronic noise in the picture. Grain increases with ISO, and while it can be unwanted, it can also be used creatively to convey mood or exaggerate textures. It’s especially effective when trying to mimic the look of grainy black-and-white prints.

Special camera kit:
None

Shooting tips:
Bump up ISO and try reportage-style shots converted to black and white.

 

H is for High-speed sync


What is it?

High-speed sync refers to the shutter speed at which a flash will work – or sync – with your camera. If high-speed sync isn’t set, flash units will only work successfully at shutter speeds up to around 1/250 sec – this is only really an issue if you want to use a flash in bright conditions and want to use a wide aperture.

Special camera kit:
A flash with a high-speed sync (HSS).

Shooting tips:
In our example, an aperture of f/4 at ISO 100 needed a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. We wanted to add a burst of fill-flash to soften shadows and add a catch-light, so we set HSS to make the flash sync successfully at a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec.

 

I is for Intervalometer


What is it?

Shooting a subject at regular intervals allows you to show you how it changes over time. It’s a great technique for making a time-lapse sequence of a plant growing – or to show something rotting away with age…

Special camera kit:
Try a cable release with an interval shooting function, such as the Hähnel Giga T Pro (£80). Some software packages also includes an intervalometer, such as the EOS Utility program supplied with Canon cameras.

Shooting tips:
It can be hard to work out how long you need between each shot, however, it is better to have more shots than you need than to miss a decisive stage.

 

J is for Joiner


What is it?

The joiner effect was made popular by the artist David Hockney – and has become a lot easier to do in the Photoshop era, as each ‘tile’ can be stretched and cloned so that you can’t see the joins. However, it can be fun to go old-school – shooting a scene in bits, then sticking prints on a piece of card. The rough-and-ready look, with imprecise alignment, can add to the effect – as in our shot of Durdle Dor.

Special camera kit:
None

Shooting tips:
Practise how many shots you will need to cover a scene, ensuring that you get a decent amount of overlap between each shot.

 

K is for Kaleidoscope


What is it?

A kaleidoscope uses mirrors to create a coloured pattern from simple subjects. For a similar effect with your camera, make a tube using a sheet of silver card or mirror plastic that will fit over the front element of your lens. Now simply aim this at a coloured subject and see the colour spread out.

Special camera kit:
A macro lens works best, allowing you to fill the screen with a more abstract pattern (find out How to set your autofocus for macro photography). We used a sheet of silver corrugated plastic (costing 50p) from a craft shop.

Shooting tips:
If the front element of your lens is recessed, roll up the tube so it fits in the recess. This creates a better centre circle for the effect.

 

L is for Lensbaby


What is it?

The Lensbaby is a lens that creates a small ‘sweet spot’ of focus then gradually blurs out everything around that area. Using a clever bending and pivoting mid-section, the Lensbaby can move the sweet spot of focus around the frame, without you having to change position. This gives an out-of-focus area that looks more like radial or motion blur than the effects you can achieve with aperture and depth of field (find out how to Master depth of field in 8 steps).

Special camera kit:
We used the Lensbaby Composer (approx £155) for our shot.

Shooting tips:
The Lensbaby is manual-focus only. A tripod can help to steady your hand and maintain strong focus, even on moving subjects (see our 4 tips for sharper shots when using a tripod).