Digital camera effects from A-Z

    | Photography Tips | 20/02/2012 11:19am
    1 Comment

    M is for Mock moonlight

    What is it?

    ‘Mock moonlight’ or ‘day for night’ is an old television effect to give an impression of night without the expense. A daylight scene is shot using filters to give a strong blue tone. To do this with a digital camera, simply set the white balance to Tungsten, then underexpose by setting exposure compensation of -2.

    Special camera kit:
    None needed, but you can increase the effect by adding a blue-coloured ‘cool down’ filter.

    Shooting tips:
    For more a more realistic high-contrast night effect, shoot into the light. The sun can even be made to look like a full moon, if it is very low in the sky.


    N is for Neutral Density

    What is it?

    A Neutral Density (or ND) filter limits the light reaching your digital camera’s sensor, enabling you to obtain slower shutter speeds to capture motion-blur effects – ideal when shooting in broad daylight at your narrowest available aperture results in shutter speeds too fast to capture a sense of movement. ND filters also enable you use wider apertures in very bright conditions, where the camera would normally indicate overexposure.

    Special camera kit:
    Try a 3-stop ND filter (ND9); you may need to use two filters at once. B+W make a 10-stop ND filter (from £34). You’ll definitely need a tripod.

    Shooting tips:
    Set the shutter speed to 1 sec for slight movement or 10 secs for increased movement. A cable release will help you avoid nudging your camera.


    O is for Overexposure

    What is it?

    It may seem strange that we’re encouraging you to take overexposed shots on purpose, but it’s a great photographic effect to have in your skills arsenal. If used correctly you can end up with dreamy, ethereal images.

    Special camera kit:

    Shooting tips:
    It’s important to pick the right sort of subject or scene that will lend itself to being overexposed; look for light tones and shoot when the sun is low in the sky. Shoot in Av (Aperture Priority) mode and use exposure compensation to dial in +1 or +2 stops of extra exposure to brighten up your results. Shooting well-lit scenes or straight into the sun will enhance this effect.


    P is for Panning

    What is it?

    Panning is a method of capturing a sense of movement by tracking a subject with a slow shutter speed as it moves past you. It works superbly when photographing action sports to emphasise the speed of motion (or learn How to fake perfect panning photos).

    Special kit:
    Monopod (optional).

    Shooting tips:
    Set a relatively slow shutter speed of around 1/40-1/100 sec. Switch to your camera’s Continuous Shooting mode. Track your subjects using your camera’s continuous autofocus mode, pivoting in a smooth 180º arc, and shooting continuously as your subjects whizz past. A monopod can help produce smoother results.


    Q is for QuickTime

    What is it?

    A QuickTime Virtual Reality movie is a way of combining multiple images to create a seamless 360º panorama that can be toggled left or right to provide a virtual tour of a scene. They are popular with museums.

    Special camera kit:
    QuickTime player ( and some movie creation software, like Pano2VR (

    Shooting tips:
    You need to shoot a series of source images that can be merged seamlessly to produce a two-dimensional panorama. The key to getting seamless panoramas is to use a tripod, keep your camera level for every shot and overlap images by at least 30%. Shoot in Manual exposure mode to ensure consistency between the shots.


    R is for Rim light

    What is it?

    Rim light illuminates a subject from behind, often to make the subject stand out from the background, but sometimes to bring out detail in otherwise-hidden areas. Rim lighting can occur naturally from the sun or other ambient light, or can be created in a studio. It is particularly useful for revealing the texture of hair and fur.

    Special camera kit:
    If shooting in a studio, you may want to use a single modelling light.

    Shooting tips:
    To avoid lens flare and lower contrast, rim lighting should be used behind the subject, slightly higher than the camera. It helps if your subject is blocking the light entirely, but you can use a shade to assist.


    S is for Slow-sync flash

    What is it?

    A burst of flash is often used to freeze action, but it can also be used more effectively to convey a sense of movement. By combining flash with a slower shutter speed, you’ll be able to freeze-frame your subject while the longer exposure gives them a ghostly trail.

    Special camera kit:
    Flashgun (optional), tripod.

    Shooting tips:
    For full control, switch to Manual mode and use a shutter speed of 1/4 to 1 sec, depending on how fast your subject is moving, adjusting your aperture for an even exposure. Normally your flash fires at the start of your exposure (known as 1st Curtain Sync) – switch to 2nd Curtain Sync to fire the flash at the end of the exposure. This way, the trails captured by the longer exposure will be behind the subject, rather than in front of it.


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    Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2012 at 11:19 am under Photography Tips.

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