Digital camera effects from A-Z

Digital camera effects from A-Z

T is for Tilt-shift


What is it?

Tilt-shift lenses are used in architecture for photographing tall buildings without converging verticals. Used creatively, they can be used to selectively focus on a very narrow slice of a scene, which can make real-world scenes look like tiny models.

Special camera kit:
Canon’s TS-E lenses cost upwards of £800, but can be hired for around £65 for a week at www.lensesforhire.co.uk.

Shooting tips:
Get high up and set an extreme degree of horizontal tilt. Use a wide aperture so the foreground and background are thrown out of focus.

 

U is for UV light


What is it?

UV lamps or ‘dark lights’ are popular in nightclubs, their peculiar purple lighting making white clothes and other things glow in the dark. This effect can be captured with your DSLR. The output from these lights is low, so if photographing people turn up your ISO to around 1000, use a tripod, and get your subjects to stay still.

Special camera kit:
We used two UV dark lights from Maplin, costing £29.99 each; they also sell black-light bulbs (from £4.49).

Shooting tips:
It can be hard to predict which materials show up best in UV light. White man-made fibres and fluoro plastics work well – but experiment as you can get unexpected successes (tonic water is very effective, for instance).

 

V is for Vaseline


What is it?

An old-fashioned, rather crude way of producing softer shots was to coat the end of a lens with Vaseline (or petroleum jelly). It was popular with portrait photographers back in the day, and can also be used to create softness around your subjects for an artistic, romantic effect.

Special camera kit:
A pot of petroleum jelly and a filter.

Shooting tips:
Do not rub Vaseline straight onto you lens! First attach a UV or skylight filter, then use a tissue to smoothly apply a thin film over the filter, leaving a clear area in the middle.

 

W is for Writing with light


What is it?

By using a slow shutter speed in low-light conditions, it’s possible to capture light trails from almost any light source, be it car headlamps or bright fireworks. Writing with light is a little less spontaneous however, and involves using a torch to draw out an image or write a sentence during the long exposure.

Special camera kit:
A sturdy tripod and a bright torch. We used a cheap mini LED torch that cost just £2.69 and gave great results.

Shooting tips:
The best backdrop for light writing is a blank wall, or a dark night sky. Make sure that your torch is facing the camera then draw, write, or run in front of your background to create different trails.

 

X is for X-polarisation


What is it?

Cross-polarisation is a way of turning the invisible stress patterns in pieces of transparent plastic into a visible rainbow pattern. Use a polarised light source, then photograph the plastic through a polarising filter.

Special camera kit:
A lightbox makes a great light source. Polarise the light by laying polarising film over it (£21.75 for a 30x10cm sheet, www.greenweld.co.uk). You’ll also need a circular polarising filter.

Shooting tips:
As ever when using a polarising filter, you need to rotate it to get the best effect.

 

Y is for Yellow filter


What is it?

With black and white film, colour filters were used to dictate how different colours in the scene were converted to mono, ensuring the result wasn’t a wash of dull midtones. The monochrome effects on digital SLRs let you recreate these filter effects. Choosing the yellow filter option darkens skies and makes white clouds stand out, while producing natural-looking results.

Special camera kit:
None

Shooting tips:
Shoot in RAW, then you still get a colour image to use for more precise mono conversion during editing, if necessary.

 

Z is for Zoom burst


What is it?

Twisting your zoom as you’re taking a photo produces an explosive rush of colour, drawing the viewer into your image with clever use of blur to create a sense of movement.

Special camera kit:
A standard zoom lens (your kit lens will be perfect) and a tripod, if you want to ensure your blurred radial lines are straighter.

Shooting tips:
Look for colourful subjects, such as flower beds. Set a slow shutter speed, around 1/4 to 1/15 sec, focus on the central subject and start zooming out just before pressing the shutter button, zooming smoothly throughout the entire exposure.

 

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