Steve Cushing Impresionist Fine Art Photography

Embracing imperfection, recording emotions, one impression at a time…

Creative Techniques


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A few odd-ball creative techniques are mentioned here but first you need to understand the purpose of creative fine art photography so read HERE then explore some of these techniques. You don't need any of there techniques but they may add another dimension to your creativity.

Rubber Lens Mount

I have always enjoyed experimentation with the sorts of blurring bokeh effects. This led to experimentations with tilt-shift lenses used in architectural photography. But these tilt shift lenses were always a little rigid in use.

Rather than use an expensive tilt-shift lens, you can achieve the same creative effect by using a technique that is called freelensing . It's just what it sounds as you're freeing the lens from its mount to your camera and move it about at angles to create a tilt shift on the image plane. Sometimes, however, light gets into the camera from around the back of the lens so to prevent this I built a rubber lens mount from a car gear stick rummer glued to a camera lens mount adapter.

Creating a rubber lens mount permits full freedom of movement with no light entering the camera from around the lens as with freelensing.

So as we alter the plane of the sensor relative to the plane of projection from the lens we distort the perspective.

This can be great fun. Do not move the lens at too much of an angle or you will cause a vignetting where no light is reaching the sensor. You do not need much movement to get very unusual creative effects.
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With landscape photography and a conventional lens it is hard to get a good depth-of-field of both foreground and the background. For example, the flowers up front and the castle in the back. The dotted line marks the zone of the best focus. As you can see with an aperture f/16 you can capture both objects with a good DOF. But at the same time both objects are on the borders of the depth of field and won’t be super sharp.


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By tilting the lens plane you can capture the flowers closer to the camera and the castle in the back with a lower aperture. Of course this is at the expense of blurring other parts of the image.

This can easily be seen in the images HERE

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As with any tilt-shift style lens, which this approximates, the blur effect depends the amount of tilt. But it is also affected by the aperture. Wider apertures such as f/1.5 create a narrower area of focus surrounded by a larger amount of blurring. Smaller apertures create a wider area of focus surrounded by less blurring.

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Look at the image on the left. This shows the aperture wide open as simulated in this image by a thin coloured line "A " indicating a shallow depth of field before the tilt. Note the areas on the sensor that will be in focus and those which will not be.

Decreasing the aperture size will effect the thickness of the focus line thus more will be in focus as in any normal shot. But notice how with this focus line even with the aperture wide open the top (A) is out of focus as it is in front of the film/sensor plane as the lens if focused on point B. If the lens was in a normal position all of the object line A would be in focus for the depth of field shown by the thickness of the line.

Changing the angle of the lens to the sensor creates different effects, and whilst the image above shows this in a vertical offset the lens can be offset in any angle or direction.

If this sounds confusing, in practice, it’s surprisingly intuitive. The slice of focus is easily controlled physically by flexing the rubber mount, and you can see the effect immediately on a digital camera.

The tilt-shift often creates an almost toylike quality. This is due to the miniaturisation effect caused by changing the perspective. The effect is even more pronounced if one chooses bold colours for the composition.

Most images require the camera to be still but you can also capture something completely different by deliberately moving the lens in the rubber mount during the exposure.

Sample images HERE and self made lens HERE


Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) photography is an abstract style of shooting that has no rules – it all comes down to moving your camera over a long exposure. I come from an art background and I believe this type of photography brings out the expressionist painter in all of us. One can create abstracts with rapid movements of minimal blare images with slight movements. Instead of taking pictures with the camera the photographer is painting with it.

The easiest way to get motion blur in the images is by have a long shutter speed. This is easily achievable at night but it may be more difficult during the day, even with the lowest ISO and smallest aperture available. This is a time to use a neutral density filter.

There are various camera movements that can be used from squiggles to wave movements, small movements to large and resting the camera in one place for a short time before movement to add a fix in the blur.


Panning
Panning vertically or horizontally is one of the most popular forms of ICM photography. You can either do this handholding the camera or placing it on a tripod. A tripod can give you more of a precise motion and, if you level the tripod beforehand, you can get perfectly straight horizons. You can use a ball head or three-way pan-and-tilt head for this. This is very effective with water such as the sea.

Zooming
When using a zoom lens, it’s great to move the zoom ring while the shutter is open as this can create some really interesting shots in which it seems like objects are being thrown towards the camera a bit like watching the Doctor Who Tardis moving through time.

Rotation
For something different rotate the camera in a partial 360° motion. This creates a spiral-type image and works really well with the tops of trees. Experimenting with amount of turn and again, some static movements can create interesting creative effects.

Random
Random movements can create painting the images as it creates brushstroke.

REMEMBER THE SPEED OF MOVEMENT and shutter speed CANGES EVERYTHING.

Sample images HERE

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Multiple Exposure

One of the first creative photography techniques photographers experiment with is multi-exposure. The most famous contemporary photographers developing this technique is Pep Ventosa.


The Pep Ventosa Technique

Pep Ventosa is a Catalan photographer known as a contemporary impressionist.

The Pep Ventosa photography technique is new creative way of seeing and depicting the flow of time with your camera. Often it is referred to as a sketching technique due to the type of image it produces. It doesn’t matter what type of camera you use or how fancy a lens you have. With the Pep Ventosa photography technique, it’s all about what images you take and what you do with the images you’ve taken.

Pep Ventosa shoots an object doing a 360-degree circle and aptly named the technique ‘In the Round’. He walks around an object like a tree or a lamp post taking shots at the same height every couple of feet until he’s gone full circle. The beauty of his images is then created in an image software program as he stacks the images and blends them together. When shooting a tree, lamp post or something similar using this technique you must try to keep the subject in the same part of the viewfinder as you move around it.

Each image is stacked about 50% transparency but it is possible to reveal a very focused part of the image in some of the layers with a lower transparency or repeat a layer.

Adapting the Technique

It is essential to adapt the Pep Ventosa photography technique for each specific subject. So if he’s photographing a bridge, building, or an old car he will go along the length of the subject photographing every few steps rather than around 360 degrees.

There’s lots of trial and error. You need to carefully choose your subject. As always the rules of good design and composition apply, regardless of your multiple exposure technique.

A strong visual subject and composition is required for this technique. It’s also best to use a wider lens (11- 50 mm approx) so that you can get up close to your subject.

Sample images HERE


Long Exposure Photography

One of the creative photography techniques that I've been having a lot of fun with lately is with long exposures. You get that creamy looking water when shooting waterfalls. This is particularly so with 30 seconds or more for an exposure time.

I love the look of the dreamlike effect of the waves meeting the beach when this unusual technique is used.

Sample Images Here



Painting With Light

Photography is sometimes been described as painting with light, but this creative photographic technique gives you even more control of how you want your subject to be portrayed. You can create some wow photos.

This involves you to use a light source in a dark place, and literally using the light source to paint light trails or illuminate a subject just as an artist would create an oil painting on a canvas.





Multiple Exposure

Combining two or more exposures into a single image is a technique that almost certainly began as an accident as with the early cameras, it was all too easy to press the shutter button while forgetting to change the plate or wind on the film. This usually led to an overexposed jumbled mess. When roll films became popular, the modern camera manufacturers at the time thought it prudent to build a mechanical interlock into the film advance mechanism to prevent accidental multiple exposures (unless you used a special override button). So multiple exposure has been around since the film days, but if you used the override button it required precise calculations to get the correct exposure and avoid the overexposed mess.

With the advent of digital cameras many offered a multiple exposure function, that not only provides a simple means to recreate the traditional effect but also extends the creative possibilities by using more sophisticated blend modes.

In this technique, images (two or more) are exposed normally and then added together in the camera. This means that the brightest parts of the final image will be made from the brightest parts of either of the two component images, a fact which can effectively be used to make each image cut out the other. This is achieved by simply setting the camera’s multiple-exposure setting to take two or more photos and blend them in the Additive mode.



Reversed Elements

Reversing one or all of the elements is a lens is another creative technique. The Helios 44 is often used like this by photographers, however I prefer to used the Mir-1 37mm. Sample Helios images HERE and Mir-1 37mm HERE


Double Exposure

Double exposures are the simplest way to use multiple exposures. The creative options are limitless. For the best results, you will need two images with light backgrounds.

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