Trick photography and special effects
Written by Jim T May (http://trick-photography.org)
If you're ready to take your photography skills to the next level and have some fun, read on to
discover the different trick photography and special effects techniques that you can instantly
use. We'll cover 3 of the more common trick photography and special effects techniques as
they require very little extra effort to get started.
Most of these techniques won't require you to buy any special equipment. You can get started
with any decent digital camera (preferably a DLSR) and a tripod for night time photography. As
for trick photography software, you need at least a good photo editing software like Adobe
Photoshop or a free alternative like Gimp. Once you get the hang of it and your skills improve,
you can consider investing in higher-end cameras and special effects software. But enough
about hardware and software, onwards to the techniques!
Forced perspective photography
If you've seen pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa taken by tourists, you'll definitely have
come across forced perspective photos. These usually depict people "pushing" the tower with
their bare hands. This is probably the most overused trick photography technique for that
Forced perspective employs optical illusion through clever positioning of the photographer and
the subject matter. So to achieve that effect you position yourself nearer to the camera so you
look bigger than the tower from the point of view of the camera, and you hold up your hands
while the photographer adjust their position to line up your hands against the wall perfectly to
create the illusion of you "pushing" the tower.
There are endless variation you can try to create interesting photos, such as making yourself
look taller than a building, holding up a person with your bare hands, interact with an
impossibly large object, and more.
Long exposure photography
Long exposure trick photography techniques are usually taken at night or under low-light
conditions. Basically you set the shutter speed of your camera to a longer duration so you get
sharp details of stationary elements in your images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the
moving elements. You need a tripod when attempting long exposure photography to get clear
and crisp images.
The most common examples you might have seen are night-time city street photos with those
surreal long streaks of light made by passing car headlamps. Other common examples are
pictures of the skies during night time where you can see the trails of stars. Or you can also
have fun creating light paintings where you can "paint" a picture with a bright light source
against a dark scene to create spectacular and vivid images.
Tilt-shift photography literally refers to the tilting and shifting of the camera lens to achieve
selective focus. This technique is more commonly known for creating miniature versions of real
life images. Certain part of the image is in very sharp focus, but other regions are gradually
blurred. This creates the illusion that the people or cars inside the image look like miniature
You'll need to get special camera lens with tilt and shift capabilities, but you can also fake this
effect using software. In fact, this technique has recently become so popular that you can install
software apps on your smartphone to automatically produce the fake miniature images you
take using your smartphone's camera directly.
Experiment and have fun!
Try to incorporate some of these techniques into your everyday or travel snapshots, and you'll
already be miles ahead of many people who take plain and uninteresting photos. Sometimes
we take photos as if we're at a crime scene, to document all the important bits to be submitted
as "evidence" that we were there. While there is nothing wrong with this kind of clinical
approach, it sure doesn't hurt to have a little fun once in a while with your pictures.
Jim blogs about trick photography and special effects techniques, that people use to create stunning
photographs. You can sign up at his Trick Photography site to receive a free report on the top 10 trick
photography ideas for travel photos. Please feel free to share this document with your family and
friends if you think it’ll interest them, thanks!