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  • Liz Mitchell Photography

Make a Splash with your camera!

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Ever thought about trying something new with your photography? How about venturing into the realms of abstract imagery? There are many ways this can be done without the use of photo editing software. Here I will discuss a few of these methods.

Zooming in and out:

If your camera has a zoom lens you can move this in or out while pressing the shutter button on a slow speed. A good way to do this would be to set your camera to the Speed priority setting rather than automatic, then set the speed at about 1/4 sec or slower. You won't be able to hand hold your camera completely steady at that speed but it doesn't matter in a zoomed image. Before taking the photo zoom out to the furthest position of your lens and then focus on the subject (a pair of dandelion flowers in the example above). Now start to zoom in the lens and at the same time press the shutter button. The same process can be followed but this time, before you start, zoom the lens in to the nearest position and then zoom out while pressing the shutter.

There are no hard and fast rules about how to do this. Experiment with the speed, faster or slower, and see what you get.

For better control you can use a tripod, if you have one, and a cable shutter release too - but hand held adds an element of abstraction I think.

Intentional Camera Movement

Another fun technique to create abstract photos is to intentionally move the camera (ICM) while the photograph is being taken. In motor sport, for example, this technique (known as panning) can follow the car, keeping it clear, while blurring the surroundings.

To create abstract images the same thing can be done. Try photographing a landscape by moving the camera from left to right at the same time as pressing the shutter button. Again, make sure the camera is set to a slower speed than normal, try 1/60th sec at first and gradually slow this down as you practice to see what result you like the best.

If the subject is vertical, such as trees or flowers, then the movement of the camera works well going up and down rather than side to side. As can bee seen in the image below of reeds at the side of the lake.

If the subject is moving itself you can emphasis the movement using ICM, this time not trying to keep it in focus, but rather to emphasis the movement. Here I have done this with the movement of a duck as it was diving in the water.

The main thing is to have fun with this technique and you might be surprised at the results. Here I tried moving the camera in circles just to see what would happen.

Multiple Exposure

The third technique I want to share today is creating multiple exposures. Some cameras can do this for you so you don't need to use editing software. I have a Panasonic Lumix LX100 compact camera which has the ability to create multiple exposures. I tried this with some flowers in my garden and am quite pleased with the results.

Multiple exposure created in camera
Multiple Exposure

However, if you don't have a camera that can do this you will need to merge photos together in a photo editing app. This can be done in Lightroom in a limited way using the HDR option but Photoshop does this easily (if you know Photoshop). Snapseed is a phone app that has a Double Exposure feature which I used for the image below.

Two images merged together
Using Double Exposure in Snapseed

If any of these techniques makes you want to grab your camera and have a go do let me know in the comments below.

Have fun and make a splash!

Image of a fountain merged with a flower
Double exposure made in Snapseed

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© Liz Mitchell Photography
© Liz Mitchell Photography
© Liz Mitchell Photography
© Liz Mitchell Photography
© Liz Mitchell Photography
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