It’s important to keep pushing your boundaries in creative arts, and trying new techniques often leads to amazing results. Experimenting with different subjects is one way to inspire creativity in photography, but you can also try new approaches to your favourite subjects. Technology has made advanced photographic techniques more accessible than ever before, and the digital darkroom adds a further dimension of creativity. All photographers should experiment with the following innovative techniques.
Free-lensing is a technique which can produce incredible results with practice. A digital SLR or compact system camera is required, as free-lensing involves shooting with the lens removed from the camera. By holding the detached lens close to the body of the camera, you can selectively focus and produce some amazing images. A zoom lens is ideal for free-lensing, and a focal length of around 50mm produces the best results. Manual exposure is required, and success is down to trial and error until you become experienced in this advanced photographic technique.
2. Long exposures
Long exposure photography has become very popular over the past year, and many of the stunning landscape pictures seen in magazines are produced using this technique. A tripod and some neutral density filters are all that’s required to enter the world of long exposure photography. Neutral density filters limit the amount of light entering the lens, and allow you to expose for seconds or minutes rather than fractions of a second. The results can be beautiful if you pick the right subject. Landscapes and seascapes work particularly well with long exposures, and the movement of plants, trees and water can be illustrated.
Many digital cameras now offer filters and toning options, but the digital darkroom is the best place to experiment with these techniques. Chemical toning was the only option in the days of film photography, but image editing software means you can now experiment with toning in a few clicks. Black and white photography remains a popular form of the art, but toning can be used to add a range of colors for different creative effects. For example, a portrait photograph takes on a dark and moody effect if you add a blue tone.
4. High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography
HDR photography is a method of taking several images at different exposure settings and using image editing software to merge them into one picture. The resulting pictures have a tonal range which it would be impossible to capture using traditional photographic methods. Photoshop has tools to create HDR images, and there are free and trial versions of HDR editing software available if don’t have access to paid for software. The starting point is to take three to seven shots of the same scene at a wide range of exposure settings. HDR can be a subtle effect, or the technique can be used to create surreal images with a fantasy appearance. Many photographers are now using HDR techniques for all of their work.
5. Infrared images
Infrared photography involves capturing images of light not visible to the human eye. It was popular in the days of film photography, but was a complicated and time consuming process. It’s easy to create the same effect as an infrared image using photo editing software, and the results are original and interesting pictures. Landscape photographs work particularly well as infrared images, but the technique can be applied to any subject.
The techniques described in this article can create photographs like you never have seen before.