Night Photography Ideas and Techniques: How to Do the Zoom Effect

What is zoom effect?  This if the effect that you can create during long exposure, it is a classic special effect that can be traced back to the time of early film photography.  With this effect you are able to create dramatic and artistic streaks of light from center of the frame.  This is a great technique to emphasize motion or create tension in photographs.  There are three ways to achieve this kind of effect and here they are:

The Classic Method for the Classic Zoom Effect

In doing this technique, you need to have a zoom lens and your camera must be capable of long exposures of about ¼ seconds and longer.  This technique will work with a slow shutter speed, dim lighting condition, reduced ISO setting, stopping down the lens, or using a neutral density filter.

To create the best result, use a tripod to hold the camera and avoid unnecessary shaking that will distort the image.  Then compose and focus the subject at exact center of the frame.  Just move the zoom lens form a longer focal length to a shorter focal length as soon as you hit the shutter button.  You can also experiment on zoom speed and the range of focal length to get the best possible image.  The classic zoom effect works best if you have a busy background with plenty of bright spots that can create the streak.

Use a Special Effect Filter

Although the classic method is fun to experiment but it can as well be very tricky to master.  That is why we have this other technique as an alternative in achieving the zoom effect.  This technique is to use a Cokin radial zoom filter.  It should make your photography life much easier.  For the setup to work you will need to have an adapter ring for your lens, a filter holder that clips on the adapter ring and accepts the filters, and the filter itself.  Then just do the same procedure and you will easily get your zoom effect instantly.

The Photoshop Magic

With various photo editor software available now, we can create many photographic effects including the zoom effect in an instant.  Photography software has made special effect composition much easier on the part of professional and non-professional photographers.  We should take advantage of it as well so that we can create artistic and attractive photographs.  It is actually quite easy to create the zoom effect in Adobe Photoshop.  You just need to adjust the amount of the effect to your taste to simulate the speed of turning the zoom ring.  You can also place the center of the zoom anytime and anywhere you want instead.  You can place it at the sides instead of the usual center to make it more appealing.  Here are some simple steps you need to follow in order for you to get that zoom effect using Photoshop:
  1. Open the image you wish to edit in Photoshop (make sure it is the copy of the original file).
  2. Then you now duplicate the layer.
  3. In selecting the duplicated layer, go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur.  Change the blur method to zoom and select the quality whether you want draft, good or best.  Then click and drag to select the blur center.  There is no preview available so you might have to experiment a little bit to get the effect you want.
  4. Then add a layer mask to the selected duplicated filter.
  5. You can now use the Gradient tool and select the black-white radial gradient.  Click on the center of the zoom and drag it out to where you want it to be.  Just make sure that the center of the gradient is black which will reveal the background layer to give you a clear center.  If you get the opposite effect, just check the Reverse box to reverse the gradient color and do it all over again.


Photography – How to Take Light Reflections (Refractograph)

Refractograph is the type of photograph that takes the images of light reflections in such a way that I will be captured artistically. The common way to do this is by projecting light through art glass or specially shaped plastic to create that neon-colored works of art. It may look like it is edited or designed digitally in the computer, but its actually real without any camera tricks or anything. Difficult to do as you may think it is, but actually you can make your own refractographs with much simpler materials.

In this craft you’ll basically need the following: a camera with zoom or macro function, tripod, flashlights, LEDs, and assorted light sources, a few pieces of colored paper, and transparent glass or plastic objects.

There are other objects to try; nearly anything that is transparent can be used to make refractographs. The only requirement is that for light to pass through that object. Here are a few things you can try: glass bottles or jars, plastic bottles, drinking glasses, glass vases, bottles of water, soda or wine, transparent plastic bead, buttons or toys, glass marbles, and cocktail swizzle sticks.
The best place to set up your working area is in a dark room. There is no need to make it light tight just make sure it’s dark enough to make your reflected lights show up clearly. Now set up your transparent objects in front of a piece of colored paper. Then shine a light through the object onto the paper. Then set your camera up on a tripod to make it stable, zoom in on the light pattern being projected on the paper and click! So basically that’s all there is to do and nothing more. Just let your imagination and creativity take you further. There is no limit to the designs you can create and capture.