1986 B.P. (Before Photoshop)
Photoshop is a fun program and can be used to turn plain photographs into unusual or improved versions. But before Photoshop arrived, photographers were using in-camera effects to put some pop into their images.
What Is an In-Camera Effect?
This means the manipulation of a photographic image through the use of special lighting, shutter speeds, depth of field, lenses, filters, colored gels, props, or materials while the picture is being shot.
Why Use In-Camera Effects?
In some cases, you simply don’t have the time to use Photoshop to alter the image, especially if you are under a tight deadline.
Other times, believe it or not, an in-camera effect is easier to produce than using Photoshop. This means you can experiment with various set ups while taking the photos. At the end of the session, you just pick the best one.
Another reason to use in-camera effects is to familiarize yourself with the operation and different settings of your camera.
The knowledge you gain from using in-camera effects helps you to be a better photographer, which means less time fixing mistakes after shooting photos.
These in-camera techniques work with most cameras, but some digital cameras won’t allow you to manually override your shutter speeds, f-stops, and other settings.
If this is the case, you can either find a camera that lets you do this, or just skip these effects until you can find a camera that is more flexible.
So here we go.
Depth of Field
This is one of the simplest tricks to add drama or interest to a photograph. Depth of field refers to the amount of sharpness or focus that is available in a scene.
Generally speaking, when you use the zoom feature of your camera for close ups, the specific area that you are focusing on will remain sharp, while the background and/or foreground is thrown out of focus.
Manually changing your f-stop or lens aperture has the same effect. The smaller the f-stop number is, the shallower your focus will be. So a setting of f/2.0 will have less depth of focus of a scene than a setting of f/16. The photo below was shot with an f-stop of 5.6 while doing a close up.
Panning Your Camera for Action Shots
This is somewhat similar to the depth of field trick except that motion is used to accentuate a subject instead of using focus.
Let’s say you want to take a photograph of a person riding a bicycle. You snap the picture and the scene is frozen in time. It’s ok, but it could be better. To enhance the photo, you can pan your camera or follow your subject while it is traveling across from you.
The first step is to adjust your shutter speed to 1/60 or 1/125 of a second. As the subject moves past you, follow and match the subject’s motion by panning your camera. As you do this, snap the picture.
This results in the subject being in focus while the background is blurred. The effect gives a sense of motion to the photograph and can be used in any situation when motion needs to be accentuated or demonstrated.
This in-camera effect is all about exposure. You’ve seen this trick in many movies and photographs, but just how did they do it? The technique is simplicity itself. The trick is to take a photo of a subject against a brightly lit background and expose for the background.
The huge difference in light ratio will make the subject go completely dark while the background is exposed properly. This will produce a nice silhouette of the subject. Just make sure that your source of lighting is from behind your subject and not in front of it.
This may take a few shots to get it just right by experimenting with the exposure, but the effect can be stunning if done correctly.
Next week we’ll show you how to make the sky bluer, produce nice diffused images, and more. See you then!
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