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

Updated on April 7, 2015
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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

Source

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.

- 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!

Water Drop Photography

Painting With Light

Camera Toss

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.

Long Exposure - Light Trails

Zoom Effect

Source

Macro Photography

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

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

Bursting Bubbles

Multiplicity

Heart Bokeh

Long Exposure Sparks

Source

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

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.

TtV Photography

Silhouettes

Fisheye

Lens Flare

Souvenir Photos

Click here to browse more photos by Michael Hughes.

Slow Sync Flash

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. | Source

So do you experiment with creative techniques?

See results

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    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Thanks for sharing the cool photos and tips! =)

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Some great pics.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

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

    • profile image

      CreativeMind2011 6 years ago

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

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Great ideas...blessed

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      PsdDude 6 years ago

      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...

    • wellingtonboot profile image
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      wellingtonboot 6 years ago from U.K.

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

    • AceofHearts profile image

      AceofHearts 6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Spikey64 5 years ago

      Great lens the pictures are awesome...

    • profile image

      DevonAlanaPhotography 5 years ago

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

    • GoldenClone profile image

      GoldenClone 5 years ago

      good like

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 5 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 5 years ago

      I still love this lens.

    • profile image

      RedGarnet 5 years ago

      The best lens on squidoo! Wow!!

    • wcjohnston profile image

      wcjohnston 5 years ago

      Great Lens, The Photo by Richard Heeks is wonderful.

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      I love long exposures.

    • profile image

      cwallsterphotos 5 years ago

      Great lens! I love how you explore photograph options!

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      queen2010 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      backdropexpress 5 years ago

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

    • SimonJames74 profile image

      SimonJames74 5 years ago

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

    • davies86 profile image

      davies86 5 years ago

      brilliant lens. really enjoyed it

    • mary lighthouse15 profile image

      mary lighthouse15 5 years ago

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

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 5 years ago from Alabama USA

      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.

    • mySuccess8 profile image

      mySuccess8 5 years ago

      Such great variety in techniques - great tips.

    • Beadsnresin profile image

      Beadsnresin 5 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      dmboyce 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      NikonD5100Reviews 5 years ago

      Love the Light Painting stuff!!!

    • lunagaze profile image

      lunagaze 5 years ago

      thanks for finding all the great tutorials bookmarked

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      redleafloans 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great !!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great !!

    • profile image

      KRaj_DST 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      photographersinindia 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      photographersinindia 5 years ago

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

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 5 years ago

      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.

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 5 years ago

      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. :)

    • crbphotography profile image

      crbphotography 5 years ago

      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.

    • sibian profile image

      sibian 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      snappycanvas 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      photographycoursefanatic1 5 years ago

      Thanks for the info

    • profile image

      jennajohnson868 5 years ago

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

    • Sunshine804 LM profile image

      Sunshine804 LM 5 years ago

      Excellent lens! Love all the info and the pics.

    • profile image

      wecomparebooks 5 years ago

      I definitely want to try the Painting With Light example

    • profile image

      cabletiesandmore 5 years ago

      Excellent photographs ! Lighting photohraphy is excellent especially.

    • PhotographicStu profile image

      PhotographicStu 5 years ago

      Excellent lens and all the information is great

    • profile image

      Modzed 4 years ago

      Wow! Great lens, very helpful!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      Excellent photos. keep up the good work.

    • realovealreiko profile image

      realovealreiko 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      locknloaded 4 years ago

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

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 4 years ago from Nashville, TN

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

    • Ian Hutson profile image

      Ian Hutson 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      photomania 4 years ago

      I could stay here all day, thanks a million.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      goodphotography 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      wattyan 4 years ago

      Very informative! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      markusreina 4 years ago

      great lens.. thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      BarbaraAnn13 4 years ago

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

    • edthecameraguy profile image

      edthecameraguy 4 years ago

      Love the blurred motion!

    • Sky Breeze profile image

      May Matthew 4 years ago

      Thank you for the tips!

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      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-...

    • wellingtonboot profile image
      Author

      wellingtonboot 4 years ago from U.K.

      @hmommers: That's great, thanks!

    • profile image

      purelightphoto 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi!

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

    • profile image

      jura 3 years ago

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

    • dennispowens profile image

      dennispowens 3 years ago

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

    • conniec123 profile image

      Connie Clyburn 3 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      PhotoGuide 3 years ago

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

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      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!

    • AnonymousC831 profile image

      AnonymousC831 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Very detailed lens. Nice job.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      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!

    • profile image

      K5683love 3 years ago

      A lot of information here. Thanks

    • profile image

      johnhoward211 3 years ago

      I love the water splash one!

    • Bergey7 profile image

      Bergey7 3 years ago

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

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