As part of our ongoing series to help you get more creative with your digital camera, each month we publish some fun, seasonal, creative photo ideas to help inspire your imagination. Along with some amazing images, we’ve also provided some quick photography tips by both amateur and professional photographers who are experts in these fields.
This month our list covers fun projects like night-time zoom bursts, capturing winter textures, getting abstract with your computer screen and exploring the many subjects you can shoot indoors, among many other fun and creative photography projects that are perfect for this time of year.
On each page you’ll find a stunning image and an explanation from the photographer on how it was made.
If you attempt any of these photo ideas, don’t forget to share them on our Facebook wall!
December Photo Idea 01 Shoot a zoom burst at night
Clear winter skies offer some of the best conditions for photographing star trails, as the stars appear brighter than at other times of the year.
Once you’ve got the traditional long exposure star trails in the bag, why not try something more challenging, such as this striking star zoom by Lincoln Harrison?
Photoshop was used to put this image together, but the effect was produced in-camera by simply zooming the lens while exposing for the sky. We say simply, but there’s a trick to producing superior results, which we’ll come to shortly.
“The sky is made up of four or five zoomed shots, aimed at different parts of the sky (to get more trails than a single shot), and these are combined using Lighten layer blending mode in Photoshop,” says Lincoln.
“This background image is then combined with the foreground image using a contrast mask.”
Creating a suitable zoom burst for this type of image requires a little more precision than normal, Lincoln reveals: “I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds, and then slightly defocus the lens before starting the exposure.
“After about five seconds, I start turning the zoom ring (zooming out) and also bring the lens back into sharp focus at the same time. The defocus makes one end of the trail look thicker, which gives the impression that the stars are moving away from the centre of the image.
“The biggest challenge is keeping the camera steady. I use a Gitzo 3 series tripod, which is very solid, but it’s still hard to do. Getting the focus and zoom speeds right can be a bit tricky too. Usually I repeat the process about 50 times to get four or five successful shots.”
Get started today
* Make sure your camera’s battery is fully charged, and take a spare if possible; the combination of cool temperatures and constant checking of results on the rear monitor will drain power quickly.
* Choose Manual exposure mode and set the shutter speed to 30 seconds. Adjust the ISO and aperture for brighter or darker results.
* If the zoom trails aren’t straight, it’s likely that the tripod isn’t sturdy enough. (Check that the joints are tight on the legs.) Avoid applying too much force on the lens too.
PAGE 1 – December Photo Idea 01 Shoot a zoom burst at night
PAGE 2 – December Photo Idea 02 Shoot winter textures
PAGE 3 – December Photo Idea 03 Shoot candiid portraits through shop windows
PAGE 4 – December Photo Idea 04 Shoot abstract art using your computer screen
PAGE 5 – December Photo Idea 05 Shoot dramatic interiors
PAGE 6 – December Photo Idea 06 Shoot a moving sunset
PAGE 7 – December Photo Idea 07 Shoot a Christmas market
PAGE 8 – December Photo Idea 08 Shoot raindrops on glass
PAGE 9 – December Photo Idea 09 Shoot steam trains
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