One of the wonderful things about digital photography is that it’s an endless source of creativity. Everyone uses their camera in different ways and there are new, interesting techniques being made every day. Here are 10 unusual photography techniques to try right now.
While intentionally unfocusing your lens seems impractical in everyday photography, you can use this method to create abstract images filled with soft and beautiful bokeh effects. Performing this technique is as easy as unfocusing your lens in manual mode and selecting the widest aperture. Find a scene with plenty of colourful lights and shoot away. For the best results, we strongly recommend shooting at night to make the colours pop. You can use this method in other scenarios as well. You can use this technique with people, cars, flowers, and other objects or landscapes. This method is great for creating ambiguous images that get the viewer using their own imagination.
Spray Bottle effect
If you do want sharp images and still want the bokeh effect, use a spray bottle. We’re serious! As simple as it may be, using a spray bottle with water and spraying it on your lens can create amazing bokeh effects. Carefully spraying water on your lens will not damage your lens or camera. For extra protection, we recommend using a lens filter.
Forced Perspective Photography
Forced perspective photography is a fun and unique way of creating illusions. It’s all about how you compose your shot. No spray bottles are required. The most common way to do forced perspective is to have two subjects spaced apart from each other. One subject should be close to the camera whereas the other should be further away. Make sure to compose your shot in an open space so both you and the subjects have plenty of space to move around in. Then try a variety of angles that could help achieve the look you are going for. It’s also important to keep everything in focus so the illusion looks more realistic. A narrow aperture of f/16 is a safe bet for these kinds of shots but it may have to be narrower depending on where you’re shooting. Photos such as tourists holding up the leaning Tower of Pisa or touching the top of the Eiffel Tower are perfect examples of forced perspective and are easy to try yourself.
This technique is a great way to bring the wow factor to nighttime photography. The process of this is to take a long-exposure photo whilst using a light source, such as head/tail lights of moving vehicles to create light trails along the road. To do this, you must find a suitable dark environment and set your camera to the lowest ISO value and a slow shutter speed of 30 seconds. Make sure the camera is attached to a tripod to avoid wobbling. Once all set, click the shutter button and watch the cars whiz by. Because the cars are so much darker than their head/tail lights, you won’t be able to see the car in your final picture. Once your camera has finished taking the picture you should see nothing but light trails along the entirety of the road.
You can do this method with other light sources such as glowsticks and torches. For more on light painting, check out our Creative Photography Techniques: Tips For Photographers article for more details.
Kinetic photography, also known as ‘camera tossing’, is a technique of shooting photos with camera movement. If you don’t feel like tossing your camera in the air with the risk of it smashing on the floor, you can also shake, bounce, swing, or spin it. The idea of the technique is to obtain unpredictable and abstract results. Doing this will achieve random shapes, light trails, and other oddities that would be very difficult to replicate using traditional techniques. The outcome is always uncertain but it’s a fun new way to create fascinating photos without using additional equipment.
Don’t have a macro lens? No problem! Just use the other end of your lens and you’re good to go. It’s not the perfect solution but it’s a decent alternative to buying an expensive macro lens when you’ve already got one. It will be fiddly to handle free-handed, so we do recommend buying a reverse lens attachment and using a tripod to stabilize your shot. A steady camera is important when capturing subjects with such fine detail. This will only work with cameras that allow you to release the shutter without the lens attached so make sure to check your camera first. Also, note that you can only use this method in manual mode, and that you will have to adjust the aperture by turning the aperture ring on your lens.
Anamorphic lens flares with fishing line
An anamorphic flare is a horizontal flare that is commonly used in movies. This effect is achieved by using a cinematic lens. However lenses aren’t cheap and aren’t widely used in everyday photography. With just a bit of DIY however, you can create the same effect with a standard lens and some fishing line. Just place some fishing line in front of the lens using tape and you’re good to go. This simple trick gives you a very convincing anamorphic lens flare and looks great when shooting sunsets and landscapes.
Create reflective surfaces with your phone
Sticking with the DIY side of things, you can create reflective surfaces using your own phone. It’s as simple as holding your phone horizontally to the bottom edge of your camera lens. As you look through your viewfinder you can see your phone reflecting the scene above. Try moving your phone in a variety of angles to get the reflection you need. It’s as simple as that. It’s not just restricted to phones either. Anything with a black reflective surface will do.
Strip back on your gear and go back to basics with nothing but your camera. No lenses are required here. The idea behind pinhole photography is to drill a hole in the center of a camera body cap, which will allow light to pass through into the camera’s sensor to produce an image. This results in images looking very retro and somewhat dream-like with overexposures and blur. To do this, use a ruler to measure and locate the center of the cap and drill a hole. Then cut out a small piece of tinfoil and make a tiny hole with a needle and position it inside the cap aligned with the hole. Once done, all you have to do is shoot in manual mode and you’re off. This requires a lot of trial and error to get right so be sure to change the ISO and shutter speed settings to get the best results.
Here’s something that’ll get you off your feet. Levitation photography is achieved when the subject of your photo appears to be floating in mid-air. This is much easier to achieve than one might think. It just requires some creativity. The best way to do this is to mount your camera onto a sturdy tripod and take two photos of the same scene. One photo will be your model sitting or lying on a stool and another photo with the model and stool removed from the scene. Open Photoshop and import your images. Place the image with your model on top of the image without the model. Then all you have to do is apply a mask to the top image by using a paintbrush and removing the stool that the model is using. If successful, your model would appear to be floating in mid-air.
Now that you’re fuelled with ideas, it’s time to get out there and try these techniques yourself. There are many more unusual techniques out there to discover and with practice, you could make up your own.