100 Simple Practices: Try This!
Once you get past the basics, start thinking out of the box. Raj Lalwani shares some unique ideas to get stunning photos with ordinary gear.
Photography is not just about making the right choices, but also about breaking rules. It is time to go beyond the obvious, think out of the box and most importantly, have fun. How do we do this? For starters, you can try these.
55. Switch On and Shoot
Do not think of composition, light and moment. Just switch on your camera and shoot. It could be close to your eye, at your hip or just have the lens peeping out of the camera bag. The resultant photograph might surprise or even shock you. A series of such images would make a unique set of ‘happy accidents’.
56. Shoot a Picture Every Hour
Have you ever observed how places change every hour, or for that matter, every minute? Shoot one picture every hour, from the same spot. Alternatively, while going about your daily routine, stop every hour and shoot a picture of the place you are in. Not only will it be a fun record, but also narrate an interesting story.
57. Or One a Day
You can make a series of shots of the same place over a period of six months, or a year. Once you are done, the pictures can be put one beside the other, placed on a calender or even made into a stop-motion video!
58. Program Your Camera to Shoot
Some cameras have a built-in Intervalometer function that makes a picture a second, or at any designated time interval. If your camera does not have such features, you can do this manually. Just get a friend along, in case you get bored or tired halfway.
59. Or Even Use a Webcam
So you have a webcam and are chatting to a particularly cute friend of yours. Ask them to smile and pose for the webcam! All you need to do is to press the PrtScr (Print Screen) button on your keyboard. Alternatively, you can download a software that programs your webcam to shoot at specific intervals. This can create a rather eerie video of the goings-on in your room through the day.
60. Through Interesting Glass
Glass can be transparent, reflective and sometimes, depending on the light, both. Make use of this. Also, try shooting through sunglasses, coloured bottles and even a magnifying glass to get really close.
61. Create Vehicular Abstracts
Ever sat on a ferris wheel and felt the world go around? Now imagine if your camera feels dizzy in the same way. Strap the camera to a ferris wheel, bicycle, car’s rearview mirror or even your own body. Just be careful that it does not fall!
62. Get a Monopod’s Perspective
If you wonder how to shoot crazy perspectives wherein the camera seems as if it is in the air or near the wheels of a moving car, it is actually simple. Mount the camera firmly on a monopod. Now, stretch out the monopod and shoot. You will need to use the Self Timer mode or a cable release to trigger the photo.
63. Shoot Like a Child
Imagine a two year old kid seeing a tall man bending down to speak to him. Perspectives can be quite unique—whether it is a child’s or a bird’s eye view. Get down on the floor or climb a tall building and make the ordinary look stunning.
64. Add Some Vaseline
Applying Vaseline on the lens’ filter can create a soft, ethereal look. You can also apply it to a specific part of the filter such that a part of your frame is sharp and the rest is blurred—something like a tilt-shift effect.
65. Blow on the Filter
Your lens may get fogged up while moving out of air conditioning or you may choose to blow air on the filter yourself. This creates a surreal, foggy atmosphere and makes light sources look like large, round circles.
66. Use a Tripod, But Get Blur
Blur can be random, but have you ever thought of using it methodically? Keep the camera on a tripod and move it after half the exposure is over. Alternatively, pan the camera really slowly during a long exposure.
67. Get a Picture Inside a Picture
This is simple and fun. Find an image of a friend you really like—a lovely photo memory. Now, ask your friend to pose with the photo print in front of their face! You can also try using sketches inside the frame, or including a television set.
68. Create a Collage from Prints
Now, it is time to get really creative. Make a really large print of your favourite photo. Tear it up and then place each piece close to each other, almost like a jigsaw puzzle. If you enjoy this, look up the work of legendary photo artist David Hockney.
69. Pose Inside a Trial Room
Just ensure that this does not get you into trouble. Trial rooms in shops and malls have multiple mirrors that can show six or seven reflections of you. Once you are done trying that new shirt, point the camera and capture a self portrait!
70. Twist the Camera
Conventional zoom burst involves moving the zoom ring during the exposure. But then, you can try holding the lens with your left hand and twisting the camera around. This will give you a unique radial blur. This technique is great for shooting lights at night.
71. Shoot and Move in Circles
While shooting trees or overhead decorations, use a long exposure and move around in a circle. The resultant blur will look like a whirlpool!
72. Get Others to Shoot You
Whenever you meet someone, ask them to make a portrait of yours. The resultant series will show how different people capture the same subject. Try entering photo booths and direct yourself.
73. Hold Mirrors in the Frame
Bend reality. Reflections in our daily life are common, but if you make a person hold an actual mirror within the frame, the resultant image can be unsettling, yet memorable.
74. Visit a Gorgeous Location
This is the simplest thing you can do. There are some places that are so beautiful and offer so many opportunities that you just cannot go wrong.
75. Accessorise your Compact Camera
Add a red gelatine paper to your compact camera’s flash for some superb effects. Alternatively, attach a mirror such that you are pointing the camera in one direction, but actually shooting something else.
76. Shock the Viewer
Include something that the viewer does not expect to see—something that is in stark contrast to the mood of the photo. Or, exclude an element and just include its shadow in the frame.
77. Put the Camera on a Skateboard
Tape a compact camera firmly to a skateboard and ask your friend to do some stunts. Place some tape on the shutter release button such that the camera shoots continuously from that crazy angle.
78. Have Fun with Video
When ideas run out, just switch to video! You can pretend you are shooting a picture and wait for the person to pose, or just shoot a minute-long clip of a quiet landscape.
79. Explore Cell Phones
Modern-day cell phones have a lot of applications that allow you to add creative effects to your photos, including oversaturated colours, fake light leaks, film-like processing or even a Lomo look. The best thing about shooting with a cell phone is that it is so easy!
These are just a few of the things that you can do. Sometimes, a specific technique may work really well, while at times, you should throw technique out of the window and just think of a great idea. The point is to experiment and then form your own ideas and techniques. So the next time someone looks at your photograph and says “Wow!” you can ask them, “Have you tried this?”
Seven Photo Projects You Can Take Up Now
Photo projects are a lot of fun. While working towards a particular theme, you should monitor your own progress from time to time.
Capture a self-portrait everyday, for an entire year. You can try a new concept each time to really challenge yourself. Alternatively, shoot from the same angle every day, and then place them side by side.
At the Same Time
This is a project that you can attempt along with a group of friends. Preplan a particular time, and each of you should shoot a picture at that very moment— whatever you may be doing. This can result in some really funny photos!
Approach people on the street and ask them if you can make their portrait. Talk to them, ask them about their lives and even make some friends!
Document Your Family
Sometimes, we forget the basic essence of photography—to document people we love. Shoot at home everyday and gift the pictures to your loved ones.
Pick a Colour
You can spend an entire fortnight trying to shoot red subjects. The next week, try blue.
Or a Letter of the Alphabet
Choose a letter and look around for subjects that begin with the letter. This will not only challenge your imagination, but also your observational skills.
If you are too busy to shoot dedicatedly, try alloting an hour a week to photography. It should not be too difficult and you can try visiting a different place in your neighbourhood each week.
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