10 popular creative photo effects (and how to achieve them)

10 popular creative photo effects (and how to achieve them)

In this collection of tutorials from our popular Shoot Like A Pro series we show you how to take full control of your camera and capture your most inventive photos yet! Each week we’ll show you a new creative photo effect and explain how you can recreate it.

We’ll kick things off with forced perspective…

10 popular creative photo effects (and how to achieve them)

The technology and trends in photography change almost daily, so keeping track of what’s new can be impossible. But new skills and techniques can help give your photography a new spark or creative twist.

So we’ve come up with the top 10 techniques that you should try right now to help inspire your photography. Learning a new approach or trying a new style of photography is a great way to keep your images fresh – and developing your skills will help you to discover a visual style that’s unique to you.

All 10 of our techniques will help you produce striking results, and you could even combine two or more together to come up with a whole new look. So all you need to do is get out your camera and give them a try…

SEE MORE: 77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Creative photo effects: 01 Use perspective to fool the viewer

Creative photo effects: 01 Use perspective to fool the viewer

From surreal images that just don’t seem to make sense to fooling the viewer into thinking that a scene made from differently sized subjects is real, using perspective is a great way to create mind-boggling images.

Many of these techniques have been around since the dawn of photography, but the instant review and Live View facilities of digital cameras have made it possible to create these images more easily and convincingly.

Skills involved
The main skills involved in creating these images are the imagination to think of the scenario in the first place, and adjusting the position of the camera, subject and background to make the result convincing and believable.

Each of these aspects will vary according to the size and type of model that you use, so the only way to discover the best solution is to experiment until it looks right.

If you are trying to create a believable image from differently sized objects, you also need to think about the lighting.

Remember that you probably won’t fool the viewer if the light on different areas of the scene is too different, so try to make sure that the foreground and background lighting match for the most convincing results.

The technique
Creating a realistic illusion takes a little setting up. You’ll need to find a suitable model, a surface to place the model on and a location where you have enough distance between the model and the background to create the correct perspective.

A standard zoom lens will be perfect for shooting most scenarios, but the exact focal length will depend on the size of model you use and the distance it is from the background.

Try starting with the lens set to around 35mm on a full-frame camera or 24mm on an APS-C model, then adjust the focal length once you have found a position that gives the best illusion of perspective.

SEE MORE: Forced perspective – fun photography effects you can achieve with any camera

How to force perspective and make a toy car look real

How to force perspective and make a toy car look real: step 1

1 Set the stage
Place your model and surface (we used some abrasive paper to simulate a road) on a raised platform. In Aperture Priority mode, set your camera to a small aperture such as f/22, and pick an ISO of 200 or 400. You may need a tripod to hold the camera if you are shooting in dark conditions.


How to force perspective and make a toy car look real: step 2

2 Get the right angle
Once the model is in place, you need to position the camera as close as possible to the height of the surface that the model is on. Then you need to experiment with the distance between the model and the car, as well as the focal length, until you find a perspective that looks correct.


How to force perspective and make a toy car look real: step 3

3 Take the shot
Once you have found a position that gives the ‘correct’ perspective, you can fine-tune the results by moving the model to line up perfectly with the background subjects. Because the model is very large in the frame, even small movements can make a huge difference to the result.

SEE MORE: Trompe L’oeil in photography – how to play with perspective and deceive the eye

Find a different perspective

Along with using perspective to fool the viewer into thinking that a small object is actually much bigger, you can also create illusions that work the opposite way around.

The best way to do this is to shoot a recognisable subject, such as a person, then get them to pretend that they are interacting with a much larger object or subject, which is actually in the distance.

Just like creating the illusion of a realistic scene, the key is to experiment with the position of the two subjects, and the focal length of the lens, until they both appear to be in the same position.


Camera angles: 5 ways to add impact with unusual perspectives
How to get photo composition right every time
5 ways to compose an image for supreme impact
The 10 Rules of Photo Composition (and why they work)


Creative photo effects: 02 How to make a spherical panorama in minutes

Turn a panoramic vista into an image that gives you a complete 360-degree view in a square view

Creative photo effects: 02 How to make a spherical panorama in minutes

These mind-bending stitched images are quite simple to produce, but they need a little planning to get spot-on. The basic idea is to take a normal panoramic image then, using some simple editing, produce a circular image that gives you a whole new perspective on a simple panorama.

SEE MORE: Panoramic photography – how to make your biggest-ever images

Skills involved
When shooting your images for this technique, you need to try to ensure that you keep the camera level throughout the series, to make it easier to stitch the image together.

You also need to use an exposure that will produce a good result throughout the whole sequence, so you may need to do some test shots in the brightest and darkest areas to choose the best exposure setting.

SEE MORE: Polar panoramas – how to shoot and stitch 360-degree pictures

The technique
First you need to shoot a series of images to create your panorama. This technique works best if you do a complete 360-degree panorama, to avoid an obvious join when you produce the spherical image.

It’s best to shoot using manual exposure, focus and white balance, as this will help keep the brightness and colour of the images consistent, which will give a better end result.

Once you’ve shot your panorama, you can stitch the images together using panorama software or tools such as Photomerge in Photoshop or Elements.

Once you have produced your panoramic image, flip it vertically, so the image is upside down, then resize the image to produce a square result.

To do this select Image>Resize>Image Size. In the dialog box that appears, make sure that the Constrain Proportions box is unticked, then change the width and height to the same value, such as 6,000×6,000 pixels.

Finally, to produce the spherical panorama, go to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates and choose Rectangular to Polar, and press OK.


Vertorama tutorial – how to make enormous landscapes with loads of impact
Master your camera’s autofocus – which AF points to use (and when to use them)
Full frame sensor size explained: how to exploit its advantages and cool effects
Histogram: photography cheat sheets for achieving perfect exposures

  • Max Doughty

    I can’t believe you’ve taken photos at Bruton! When did you go?