As with all special effects, the zoom burst can start to look a bit tired if you use it too often. Use it with care – you’ll find it particularly useful in low light when you don’t have a tripod handy and you can’t get a decent picture any other way (check out these 3 ways to hold a camera steady without tripod).
However, we’ve come up with some interesting techniques that you can use to liven up this wonderful camera trick and make your zoom burst photography look a bit different from the ordinary – we’ve explained these in more detail below.
The key to most of them is to use your zoom burst with another technique, such as combining it with another effect – you can try slow-sync flash, for instance, or panning. These effects will work better with some subjects than others.
01 Add some flash
We really love this simple camera trick! By adding flash with the zoom burst, you combine a sharp shot of the subject (the one that’s lit by the flash) and the blurred zoom burst (which is lit by the ambient light). Use the Shutter Priority mode with your pop-up flash.
Panning the camera means swinging your DSLR around during the exposure, and it’s a technique that’s usually used for tracking moving subjects. However, if you pan while you’re zooming, you’ll create an off-centre zoom burst effect; it’s tricky, but fun!
03 Try unusual subjects
Be adventurous with the subjects you use for your zoom burst effects. As you’ll see on our video, a row of bikes and a boring laurel hedge were surprise hits for us. Using a zoom burst for a portrait can also create an interesting, if rather scary, result!
04 Twist in the tale
This is the advanced version of the zoom burst. Here, you turn the camera with your right hand as you grip the zoom-ring firmly with your left. The result is a whirlpool effect, with twisting radial lines! Again, experiment with different subjects to find what works best.