How to Get Started in Trick Photography

Introduction: How to Get Started in Trick Photography

About: Hello, my name is Paul and I am a semi retired engineer and educator. Now I have time to pursue my passion for photography and creating stunning images that "wow" the audience. I am the owner of TrickPhotograp…

Taking a good picture of a scene is often pretty simple. Just hold the camera properly, keep your hands still, select the appropriate mode (preferably auto), let the autofocus kick in and take that shot.

If you know how to use your camera’s manual controls no matter how limited they can be, you could potentially take even better pictures. Nice pictures will always impress but they won’t have the same impact as those creative and fancy-looking shots that look as if they have been edited.

Learning trick photography enables you to express your creativity more and you can make bland scenes look far livelier.

Engaging in trick photography also helps you realize the actual limitations of your camera. As you learn the various trick photography techniques, you also learn the importance of each and every feature of your camera.

You can then use your newly acquired knowledge of these features to handle specific situations that you never thought your camera could take care of. The next time you encounter a subject, you could still respond quickly by shooting in auto and then experiment with all the various settings and modes to come up with fresher shots of the same subject.

More knowledge in trick photography means less dependency on post-processing and image editing applications (although you could still use them to further improve your photos if you wish).

Step 1: The Camera

Many cameras nowadays allow you to set the shutter speed to a certain value in fractions of a second.

This value refers to the amount of time the shutter allows light to pass to the camera’s sensor through the lens. Basically, using a high shutter speed means that the camera captures a shorter time period resulting to very sharp and blur-free shots.

That sounds like the thing you need for many situations but introducing blur can result to some aesthetically pleasing shots as well.

Lower the shutter speed and try taking a picture of a waterfall and you could get a very nice blurry waterfall effect. It is that kind of effect you may see in postcard pictures.

Since this option should be easily found in the manual controls menu, the shutter speed is one of the most basic functions that you can use to appreciate the surface of trick photography.

Step 2: Camera Effects

Blurring an image sounds really simple especially if you are trying to capture moving objects. But you can use these blur effects to your creative advantage if you just explore more subjects to photograph.

Night photography is a great area to explore if you want to practice your trick photography skills. It might the area where your camera could perform very badly at if its low light performance isn’t so great but other settings like your ISO settings and aperture can help a little bit.

A Ferris wheel lit up at night is a good subject to practice on if you happen to come across one. Try different shutter speeds while keeping the camera still and you’ll get the idea.

If your camera has a Shutter Priority mode, you should use that because you are likely to end up with an effect where you see light trails. If you don’t live near a place with a Ferris wheel, try to go to a spot where there is heavy traffic and night and capture a light trail using a long exposure time and a small aperture.

Step 3: The Tripod

It is very important to have a tripod if you want to get really serious with trick photography because certain tricks like working with the shutter speed require the camera to be completely still.

Image stabilization technologies won’t save you as even the slightest jitter can ruin the image. Some cameras may even have a special night mode which usually works by having the camera take pictures at different exposures and combine them to make a better image.

But nothing beats the stability of a tripod and it gives you better flexibility in setting the aperture and ISO without suffering from penalties.

The tripod also enables you to perform other tricks such as clone photography. Clone photography involves a single scene where the subject poses in different spots.

All the photos are then merged together to look as if multiple copies of the same subject are present in the scene. It is part camera work as the same scene needs to be captured at the same lighting and part software work where the subject needs to be cropped out while the background is retained so the merged image looks believable. Since the tripod makes the camera very still, you should have no problems creating these fun scenes.

Step 4: Other Gear

Don’t have a tripod or find a tripod too expensive? You can actually make your own tripod using stuff you most probably have lying around the house. With just a ¼-inch eye bolt and a thick string, you can make a string tripod that should help you capture better low-light shots at higher ISOs. The eye bolt can screw into a tripod socket while the string hooks below it so you can step on the strings making the camera more stable.

You can also use other home equipment such as an umbrella and spray paint to make your own reflective photo umbrella. This helps you take better studio shoots.

For Light Painting -  types of light, some that you probably already have are - Flashlights, Glow sticks, Fire torches, LED lights, Cell phones and Maglights.They can all be used to create different effects.

Step 5: Trick Photography Tuition

Having all the photography tools at your disposal won’t exactly make you a better photographer (unless you are really willing to experiment).

But there are professional photographers out there that not only have all the expert tools but are also willing to share various photography tricks that can really harness these tools.

If you are willing to purchase a tuition course, you should find an affordable course offered by a renowned photographer so you can really learn some rare tricks.

Check out the person’s portfolio and find out what contributions the person made. If you are on a tight budget, stick with courses you can find online.

Usefull Resources

Photography Courses :

What's in Trick Photography Course :

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    Paul Johnston
    Paul Johnston

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You are correct. The photos used to illustrate my article were (mostly) taken by Evan Sharboneau, author of Trick Photography and Special Effects. Some photos were taken by his pupils. I am still studying the course and hope to be able to publish my own work, one day. It does, however, depend on my own creativity.