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Fun Photography Ideas & Tricks | DIY Photo Projects and Technique Tutorials

Creative Techniques to Try With Your Camera

Photography is a brilliant hobby and creative outlet, and there are many different techniques you can have fun experimenting with. On this page, I've compiled a list of tutorials for new & interesting photo-capturing methods, plus impressive photos showing off the end results.

Most of them are within the capabilities of beginners with just a point-and-shoot digital camera, and a lot of the techniques have room for you to experiment with your own variations, which could perhaps end in you inventing a brand new technique - who knows?!

I hope you are inspired to try some of these out to vary your photography, and if I've left a good method out, let me know :-)

Blurred Motion

An Introduction

Options For Changing Up Your Photography

Since the invention of digital cameras, the possibility for experimentation has become huge because you can take as many photos as you like at no extra cost - so if an idea doesn't work then it doesn't matter. In addition, the number and range of settings on cameras has greatly increased, and of course Photoshop and other editing software programs have appeared on the scene. This means there is massive scope for creative expression for both in-camera and off-camera techniques. This page focusses on in-camera methods which you apply and use before uploading your photos to your PC.

Photography is normally about recording life and objects as they are, albeit as the best they can be. The inventive photography tutorials I've listed on this page are for creating art with your photos so that the end result is not exactly what you see in front of your eyes. You can use any camera, whether it's a point-and-shoot or a DSLR, to manipulate light and images to create interesting effects, abstract artistic pictures and other cool styles. You're much more likely to create a unique and eye-catching photo if you put your own spin on it, plus it's a lot of fun!

You can really get to know your camera much better by experimentation because you'll find functions you may not have realised you even had access to, and you'll better understand how your camera works and what it's capable of. The world will be filled with more possibilities once you learn a few cool tricks!


Creative methods to use in your normal everyday photos include:

Changing filters on your camera e.g. by using the black-and-white or sepia functions, or you could use physical filters if you have a DSLR to add color and other fun effects - my personal favorite filter is a starburst one which turns any bright light source into a star shape. You can also try out different angles to get unusual perspectives on your shots - for instance shooting from a low angle by kneeling down or lying on your front if necessary! Another you might recognize if you've ever visited the Tower of Pisa in Italy is 'forced perspective' where you creative illusions within your photo e.g. making it look like you are holding up the Tower of Pisa (by posing in just the right place), or perhaps making it look like you are holding the moon between your finger and thumb.


You will find that the photographic techniques often fall into a certain category depending on what photography feature you are focussing on:

- Experimenting with movement is popular and involves either the subject moving, or the camera moving, to create some form of blurred motion which gives the effect of movement within a still picture. A few ideas include camera tossing (where you literally throw the camera in the air after setting a slow shutter speed of a few seconds), panning (used in sport photos and involves you focussing on a moving object), taking photos whilst rotating your camera to get a swirl effect, or zooming in and out whilst taking a photograph to get an effect which really draws the eye to the center of the image.

- Experimenting with sunlight is another way to go, with techniques such as lens flare (where the camera is pointed directly at the sun to make a hazy effect with circles of light stretching from the sun), and silhouettes (made by putting a person or object between your camera and the sun). Lighting is so important in photography and be used and manipulated in different ways to create interesting outcomes

- Experimenting with low light conditions, where slow shutter speeds are used to capture as much light from the surroundings as possible. A tripod is definitely necessary for night photography otherwise you get blurry shots. There are a lot of artistic opportunities for making use of artificial lighting at night, including: 'Slow sync flash' is a method which combines slow shutter speeds with the use of a flash, to produce a clear main subject in low lighting, with a blurry background. 'Painting with light', which is a favourite method of mine, consists of using a slow shutter speed whilst moving artificial lighting such as sparklers/sparks/torches/glow sticks in front of the camera, often in a certain way to mark out the outline of a shape such as a heart/star etc. Light stencils are also a possibility and allow you to insert lit-up shapes, words or images into a night scene. Other ways to use artificial lights in darkness include making light trails with moving car lights, or making starburst light trails by zooming in or out during a shot of a static light (such as a street light).

- Experimenting with aperture: Out-of-focus backgrounds are popular for macro shots, and are created by selecting a wide aperture (low f-stop number).

- Experimenting with distance: You can use the macro setting on your camera, or a macro lens, to enable you to be able to capture very close and small details, which is handy for flower photos for instance. With a long zoom you can get a close-up of something much further away, which lets you capture things you wouldn't be able to if you were positioned nearby - especially animals.

- Experimenting with exposure: You can choose to over-expose or under-expose a photo on purpose to produce different lighting effects i.e. for over-exposure you purposely let more light into the camera so that the lighter areas of the image you are shooting become even lighter and often disappear entirely.

- Experimenting with long/slow shutter speeds: As talked about above, this feature is usually used for night and low light situations, however you can also use it in daylight hours e.g. you can turn waterfalls and other moving water into 'smoky water' with slow shutter speeds, which is one of my favourite effects and makes water look soft and silky.

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- Experimenting with short/fast shutter speeds: This is essential for capturing a single moment in a very quick event e.g. a balloon bursting, a water drop splashing, an explosion, or a very fast moving car. It's a tricky technique to master, but the results can be very impressive.

Other fun ideas include taking underwater pics using a waterproof camera case, or experimenting with vintage film cameras (which you can use to make 'double exposures'), Polaroids and pinhole cameras.

Click here for a great list of 12 ways to 'add randomness' to your photos.


With a DSLR camera you will have more options available to you, including more functions and the ability to use different specialized lenses like telephoto or fish eye lenses, but most of the methods on this page can be carried out with a basic point-and-shoot.

I hope you find this page inspiring and I hope you give a few of the ideas a try!

Top-Rated Creative Photography Books

Water Drop Photography

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To see how you can do this amazing photography yourself, click here.

Photo by Chrissie Wight.

Painting With Light

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Click here for information on how to create your own light painting photos.

Photo by isnietbelangrijk.

Best Photography Tutorial Websites

Camera Toss

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Photo by Carey Russell.

- A camera was thrown over a lit-up Christmas tree for this effect!

Click here for information on how to create a similar effect.

Technique How-Tos

Long Exposure - Light Trails

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Photo of car lights on Brooklyn Bridge by Laverrue.

Click here to see some of the longest photographic exposures in history.

Zoom Effect

Creative Photography Methods

Macro Photography

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Photo by Steve Gregory.

Macro photography requires you to either have macro mode on your camera, or have the correct lens with your SLR, and if you want more information, click here.

Double Exposure

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Photo by Ashley Michelle.

Click here to see how you can combine 2 photos in one by using a film camera or Photoshop.

What is Bokeh?

One of my favourite effects in photography is 'bokeh'. Bokeh is a term that refers to how the out-of-focus (blurry) area of a photograph looks. Usually this is ideally soft and not at all distracting, since often the purpose of having much of a photo out-of-focus is to draw the viewer's attention completely to what is in focus; the main subject of the photograph.

For instance, if you take a photo of a bird in a tree, the bird is the main subject so you can keep it in focus and 'blur' the background by using a shallow depth of field . Blurring a background reduces any lights or light reflections to circular shapes that look like orbs (click here for an example). These are circle in shape because the aperture inside the camera lens is circular (or very close to circular).

The aperture is the opening inside a camera lens which allows light to travel through, and the shape of the 'orbs' - which are often called 'blur discs' - can change if the aperture shape is changed. This usually-circular shape can also be altered by creating DIY bokeh filters, which have been mentioned elsewhere on this page. This is where a black filter is placed over the camera lens, and this filter has a shape of your own design cut out of it e.g. a star. When the filter is in place, the normally-circular reflections then change to star shapes as the shape of the aperture has effectively changed to a star. This means that the out-of-focus areas of your photo are now filled with stars..cool, huh?!

How does it work?

If you want to learn more about depth of field, what causes blur and why multiple circle shapes appear in the out-of-focus area, click here for diagrams and information.

Photography Tutorial Videos

More Fun Photo Ideas

Bursting Bubbles

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Photo by Richard Heeks.

Click here for information on photographing high speed events.

Multiplicity

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Photo by Estel Ciurana.

Click here for more multiplicity examples.

Click here to see how to make a similar photo.

Heart Bokeh

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Photo by CrisVM.

Click here for a bokeh tutorial.

A Variety of Things to Try

Long Exposure Sparks

This wall of sparks was created using the burning steel wool technique. Less than a handful of the steel wool was put in a (kitchen) whisk and a keychain was a attached to the top of the whisk handle to allow you to spin it around.

The wool was set alight and the whisk was spun around above the opening of this bridge so that sparks were thrown outwards by the spinning force. The sparks last for around 10 seconds and this is all captured with a very slow shutter speed (long exposure).

Please exercise caution with this idea!

Photography Project Ideas

Great For Practising Your Skills & Trying New Things

Rather than take random photos, a project makes you concentrate your efforts on one goal for a longer time, which allows you to hone your skills, encourages you to photograph more, and is lots of fun!

Some ideas include:

- 'A Day In The Life': This is where you spend a day (or longer) documenting everything that happens to you in a day, even the trivial little things. Take lots of photos even if you think what you are doing is boring. Imagine if you had done this before - maybe when you were at school or in your first job - and think how much more interesting it would be to look at that time in photos now. In 10 years you'll be happy you did this kind of documentation of your life :)

- Street fashion photography: Get out in a public place and ask fashionable people if you can take their photo - be brave!

- Interesting people: You could wander around your hometown or a new city and ask random people if you can photograph them and then perhaps ask them all a question to tell you a little bit about them. This could be anything that's not too personal, like 'where's the best place you've ever visited?' or 'what's your job?' You can note these answers down and write them on or next to the photos at a later date. Everyone's different after all, and everyone has a story.

You could also do this for people you know well instead, and write 3 facts about each person, or 3 memories, or 3 things you like about them.

- Architecture: Buildings offer a lot of inspiration for photography, especially detailed buildings or those with lots of angles or reflections. I think architecture can look particularly dramatic in black-and-white.

- Alphabet collection: Try to illustrate the alphabet. You can interpret this a few different ways: a) Photograph something beginning with each letter of the alphabet (e.g. apple to represent 'a'), b) Hunt out letters themselves in our surroundings (in signs/posters/graffiti), or c) Make the shape of each letter with props.

- Make a stop motion clip using household items or anything you find lying around.

- Time-lapse photography: This is where you take photos of a slow-moving process at set time intervals. For instance, you could photograph a sunset once every 20 seconds for half an hour. You would then use editing software to string the photos together as a video clip. You would use a normal video rate such as 30 frames-per-second (fps) to greatly speed up the action. The result is a mini movie which looks like it's in fast-motion.

Ideas for what you could film include stars moving across the sky, a flower blooming, a building being constructed, or a sunrise over a city skyline.

- Time passing: A popular project that I've seen people display on the web is the '1 photograph a day for 1 year' project. Simply take a picture of yourself from the same distance away every day, preferable with the same colour background but this isn't vital. Then at the end of the year you can string all of the photos together to make a fun video clip of you ageing! I've seen examples of this where someone has taken a picture of their kid from a baby until they were 20 years old - impressive and amazing results!

I've also seen an example where a photo (or short video clip) has been taken to represent what you were doing or where you were each day for a year - this is an alternative if you're camera shy! This can make you appreciative how much you actually do in a year, and all the millions of things you see.

More Video How-Tos

Vaseline Photo

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This photo by Darrell Hanley was created using a filter covered in vaseline in front of the lens.

To see how it's done, click here.

Inventive Ways To Use Your Camera

TtV Photography

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Click here for the Through-the-Viewfinder tutorial.

Daffodil photo source - Sentimental Heart Photography.

Silhouettes

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Photo by Vancouver Photography.

Click here to learn how to photograph silhouettes.

Even More Creative Techniques

Fisheye

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Photo by Rolf F.

Fisheye photos are created using a fisheye lens, but it is possible to make your own - click here for instructions.

Lens Flare

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Photo by Darren N.

Click here for a lens flare how-to.

Souvenir Photos

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Click here to browse more photos by Michael Hughes.

Cool Technique Ideas

Slow Sync Flash

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Photo by Kevi K.

Click here to read about the slow sync flash technique.

Videos to Inspire Invention

Slow Shutter Speed + Water

Using a tripod and a long exposure (slow shutter speed) to shoot water creates a lovely smooth and smoky effect - one of my favourite techniques.

Using a tripod and a long exposure (slow shutter speed) to shoot water creates a lovely smooth and smoky effect - one of my favourite techniques.

Please Leave a Comment!

Bergey7 on July 02, 2014:

Like the slow flash sync technique. Have not tried that in quite a while. Thank you for all the great info!

johnhoward211 on May 27, 2014:

I love the water splash one!

K5683love on March 16, 2014:

A lot of information here. Thanks

Georgene Moizuk Bramlage from southwestern Virginia on March 14, 2014:

Neat lens...lots of work went into this. I'd like to see more photos and fewer or shorter lists. Thanks for sharing with us!

AnonymousC831 from Kentucky on March 05, 2014:

Very detailed lens. Nice job.

John Dyhouse from UK on March 02, 2014:

Wow what a list of techniques and ideas, I shall be spending some time going thru some of these, I have bookmarked for easy return. Gotta love it!

PhotoGuide on December 04, 2013:

Thank you for sharing fun photography ideas, tricks, and images. For more information about these subjects, you can go to photographyskills.net.

Connie Clyburn on November 04, 2013:

This is a great lens full of information - so much here that i want to come back to it and take in a little at a time. Thanks for the links and other information!

dennispowens on October 01, 2013:

Thank you! I especially like the picture where the camera was thrown over a Christmas tree...

jura on September 03, 2013:

Great reading I like photography but I do not have much time to experiment with.

anonymous on May 13, 2013:

Hi!

Great lens. Kermit looks great with the heart bokeh & the Souvenir Photo is eyecatching. Thanks for sharing.

purelightphoto on April 30, 2013:

Great looking Lens! Cool tips this is helpful for photography addicts like me, Thanks!

wellingtonboot (author) from U.K. on March 03, 2013:

@hmommers: That's great, thanks!

hmommers on March 03, 2013:

Great tips! I hope it's OK I have posted a link to this lens at the end of mine?

http://www.squidoo.com/looking-through-the-square-...

May Matthew on January 25, 2013:

Thank you for the tips!

edthecameraguy on January 06, 2013:

Love the blurred motion!

BarbaraAnn13 on December 16, 2012:

I'm going to build a camera dolly! Thanks for the great info!

markusreina on November 16, 2012:

great lens.. thanks for sharing

wattyan on November 15, 2012:

Very informative! Thanks for sharing.

goodphotography on October 31, 2012:

Awesome lens! For readers interested in learning more great tips, check out this website on digital photography tips.

anonymous on October 27, 2012:

thank you, this has given me some great ideas for my own interesting photography album :)

photomania on October 22, 2012:

I could stay here all day, thanks a million.

Ian Hutson on September 29, 2012:

Playtime! Great fun - and great links, thank you!

Joy Neasley from Nashville, TN on September 12, 2012:

Revisiting your lens. I love the info here and the photos are amazing.

locknloaded on September 05, 2012:

awesome lens, very beautiful pictures. . . you did a dandy job, keep up.

realovealreiko on September 04, 2012:

Now I miss my Photography class in college! This is awesome!

ohcaroline on August 16, 2012:

Excellent photos. keep up the good work.

Modzed on August 16, 2012:

Wow! Great lens, very helpful!

PhotographicStu on July 18, 2012:

Excellent lens and all the information is great

cabletiesandmore on July 04, 2012:

Excellent photographs ! Lighting photohraphy is excellent especially.

wecomparebooks on June 28, 2012:

I definitely want to try the Painting With Light example

Sunshine804 LM on June 10, 2012:

Excellent lens! Love all the info and the pics.

jennajohnson868 on May 25, 2012:

Really cool post! I'll pass it along to my friend John I Dickerson. He really enjoys photography on his Canon 5D Mark II.

photographycoursefanatic1 on May 24, 2012:

Thanks for the info

snappycanvas on May 24, 2012:

These are great photographs! I love the Painting with lights and Zoom effect! Perfect!

sibian on May 20, 2012:

Hi Studentz, I need to photograph some large ( 1 metre x 400 cm) oil paintings, I couldn't find anything related to that on your lens, please let me know if you can offer some advice. Cheers.

crbphotography on May 10, 2012:

A great lens. I can not wait to try some forced perspective and water drop photography. I plan on returning to this lens in the future. Thanks.

pcgamehardware on April 15, 2012:

Really cool lens and some great Tips and Resources.

The videos are awesome and I really learned some cool techniques.

Thanks,

Like, Shared and Blessed. :)

mel-kav on April 10, 2012:

I've recently decided to become better at photography. I am definitely going to come back and study this lens. This is great info - Thanks. When I master some of the techniques, I'll have to update my backyard paradise lens.

photographersinindia on April 06, 2012:

This is a FANTASTIC lens and extremely thorough. http://www.squidoo.com/photographersinindia-com

photographersinindia on April 06, 2012:

Very interesting page. I like it very much. Please visit my page also. http://www.squidoo.com/photographersinindia-com

KRaj_DST on April 03, 2012:

Great read... thanks for all the great info.. will try out..

anonymous on March 29, 2012:

great !!

anonymous on March 29, 2012:

great !!

redleafloans on March 26, 2012:

Thank you so much for sharing these tips...:)

anonymous on March 08, 2012:

Great lens! Adding it to my featured lenses at http://www.squidoo.com/vh_creativephoto! Thanks for the info and for showing a creative side to photography!

lunagaze on March 04, 2012:

thanks for finding all the great tutorials bookmarked

NikonD5100Reviews on February 21, 2012:

Love the Light Painting stuff!!!

dmboyce on February 09, 2012:

I can't wait to try some of these techniques! Thanks for sharing

Rom from Australia on January 31, 2012:

I love photography, really have to get back into it. I have never seen the 'throw the camera for the Christmas pic trick' before, thanks for the lens!

mySuccess8 on January 31, 2012:

Such great variety in techniques - great tips.

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on January 30, 2012:

Hi love these great tips,would love to be able to take photo like these.Thanks for all the info.I take my camera every where I go,hoping for something wonderful to shoot.Great lens.

mary lighthouse15 on January 30, 2012:

Great tips on photography. I am learning something new again!. Thanks for sharing. Can I feature this lens under my photography lens? Thanks.

davies86 on January 11, 2012:

brilliant lens. really enjoyed it

SimonJames74 on December 29, 2011:

Gorgeous photos. Particularly love the water drop and lens flare.

seosmm on December 20, 2011:

Ideas like this help rekindle your passion for photography. The possibilities are endless!

backdropexpress on December 12, 2011:

This is one of the main reason why I love photography. great lens!

dellgirl on December 07, 2011:

Wonderful lens, it is very interesting! I like it. Congratulations on reaching 'MonsterBoard: Level 62!

queen2010 on December 04, 2011:

very nice, my husband likes photography and very interested to see lots of pictures ,

efriedman on December 02, 2011:

Some clever techniques here. I like the bursting bubble image.

cwallsterphotos on November 25, 2011:

Great lens! I love how you explore photograph options!

KarenCookieJar on November 16, 2011:

I love long exposures.

wcjohnston on November 05, 2011:

Great Lens, The Photo by Richard Heeks is wonderful.

RedGarnet on November 01, 2011:

The best lens on squidoo! Wow!!

smithlights on October 26, 2011:

I still love this lens.

adamfrench on October 03, 2011:

Impressive lens, thumbs up

GoldenClone on September 20, 2011:

good like

DevonAlanaPhotography on September 07, 2011:

Great lens full of information that im ready to go try!!! Thank you :)

Lindrus on August 04, 2011:

Awesome pictures! Makes me want to try some new techniques...

Spikey64 on August 01, 2011:

Great lens the pictures are awesome...

AceofHearts on July 21, 2011:

Fabulous Photography Lens! I added your lens link to my Featured Lens on my Photojournalism page. Thanks for the great info. I will be back again and and to follow more links.

wellingtonboot (author) from U.K. on July 13, 2011:

Thanks for your comments :-) My camera is a samsung pro815

PsdDude on July 12, 2011:

cool lens! thanks and thumbs up! btw, what camera do you own? check out my lens on how to do auto framing for photos http://www.squidoo.com/frame-your-photos-with-phot...

anonymous on July 09, 2011:

What a wonderful Lens, packed with great information. Will add a link to this in my 'Outstanding Zazzle Photographers' Lens

smithlights on May 30, 2011:

Love the lens! DIY photography is one of my favorite sites!

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on May 28, 2011:

Great ideas...blessed

CreativeMind2011 on February 23, 2011:

Silhouettes and the fisheye love it! Glad I've found your lense. Please be my guest too! Thanks!

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on February 20, 2011:

great photographs and some useful resources. ~blessed by a squid angel~

Paul from Liverpool, England on January 29, 2011:

Some great pics.

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on January 15, 2011:

Thanks for sharing the cool photos and tips! =)

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