You're only scratching the surface of photography when you're simply snapping photos. This weekend, learn to paint with light, create amazing star trails, and alter space and time as we know it.
Note: For those of you with Canon point-and-shoot cameras, consider installing CHDK to add extra features. Doing so will allow you to utilise the techniques described in this post much more easily. DSLR owners are good to go, but some models can add extra features with Magic Lantern.
Play With Time
Time-lapse photography offers some stunning possibilities. For starters, star trails -- achieved by a long exposure of the night sky -- make for beautiful images every time. The most important element is patience; check out our full guide for instructions.
Long exposures create all sorts of effects beyond capturing the stars in a unique light. You can experiment with longer exposures when moving the camera or keeping it still. If you're capturing images when there's plenty of light, be sure to lower your ISO/film speed and stop down your lens' aperture to a higher f-stop (such as f/22). This will allow less light to hit the sensor so a longer exposure won't overexposure your photo as quickly.
You don't have to stop at photos, either. Time lapse videos -- the process of taking a photo at set intervals and combining them all into one motion sequence -- are extremely compelling. Photojojo created a great guide to time lapse videos. All you really need is an intervalometer, your camera, and some time, but getting everything set up correctly takes a little work. (Again, Canon camera owners can use custom firmware CHDK or Magic Lantern to make the creation of these time lapse videos easier.)
Paint With Light
Light painting is similar to time lapse photography, in that it utilises long exposures to create special effects with light. That said, light painting involves you creating the special light patterns with glow sticks, flashlights, or any other source. As you can see with the picture to the right, these man-made effects can be pretty stunning. To learn more, check our guide. It contains a helpful video that explains the entire process. If your camera can handle long exposures, you can go out and do this any night with a friend. It's really fun!
Make Your Own Bokeh
Bokeh -- the out-of-focus area of your photos -- generally looks like a bunch of basic shapes. Some lenses offer nice smooth circles while others create harsher, angled shapes. If you create your own bokeh, you can make any shape you want (such as the hearts in the images to the right). Just take some paper, cut out a shape, and strap it to your lens. With that simple trick, you'll make some really cool, out-of-focus images.
Transplant Your Subjects
Sometimes you have a great location and a great subject, but they're not in the same place. With photo editing software, that's no problem. All you need to do is shoot your subject on a green screen and transplant them anywhere you like. Building your own green screen is actually really cheap and easy. (I made one several years ago over the weekend and created a lot of fun things with it.) If that's too much work, your computer monitor (or any screen, really), can do the trick for smaller objects.
Create 3D Images
I'm not a big fan of 3D. That said, the gimmick can be fun when you're making your own images and don't need any special equipment to view them. While imperfect, this easy trick can offer the illusion of a 3D photograph by simply alternating between two frames at a high speed. It's no amazing feat, but it's a pretty cool trick that anybody can see.
Create A Photosynth
What is a photosynth? It's like a panoramic photo, but in all directions. Microsoft created the concept and offers software to help you create photosynths. Essentially, you take your camera and go somewhere, then snap lots of pictures in every direction. After that, you upload them with Microsoft's photosynth tool and you can navigate through 3D-like space. It's a neat way to experience a place that offers more depth than a traditional still image. For a full walkthrough on how to do this (with video!), check out our guide.
Have an awesome weekend everybody, and take some great pictures!