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23Mar/1244

Snow Photography and Special Effects (DSLR Tutorial)

 

Equipment

  • LED Lenser X21 Flashlight - This thing is a beast. Extremely reliable and bright. I use it all the time for all sorts of reasons. Definitely worth the investment. The X21 is a continuous lighting solution, not a short burst of light like flashes are. Continuous lighting lengthens motion, flashes freeze motion. Updated versions of the flashlight are available here.
  • Nikon D300s DSLR  -  Pay no attention to this, as any DSLR can produce the results you see in the video.
  • Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 Lens - Generally the best lens to have for a Nikon crop-frame DSLR and I've created many many images with it.
  • Manfrotto 055 Tripod - Mounting your camera to a tripod is absolutely essential in order to eliminate camera-shake.
  • Optional: You can mount the X21 to a tripod by using an X21 tripod mount. When I was outside, I didn't want to lug around two big tripods for both my flashlight and camera, so I conveniently mounted the X21 to a Gorillapod.

LED Lenser X21 Flashlight mounted on the Gorillapod tripod

Results

Long Exposure showing motion of snow falling at night time

On-camera flash freezing motion of snow falling at night

Long exposure showing motion of snow falling lit by flashlight AND on-camera flash freezing motion of snow falling at night

Steel wool long exposure light painting with on-camera flash freezing snow flakes falling

Long Exposure of Steel Wool Sparks at Night in the Snow

If you are wondering how the photographs of those flying sparks were created, take a look at my Steel Wool Photography Tutorial and I'll show you how to do it!

Camera Settings

As far as what camera settings were used, I mostly used Manual Mode set to a shutter speed of 5" with an aperture of f2.8 at ISO800 but these settings can change to get different results.

Depending on what you are setting the focus point on and how much light is available, you may need a focusing aid if the area inside the focus point is not bright enough. To do this, I like to set the camera to AUTO focus, shine the flashlight on the auto-focus point seen when looking through the viewfinder, take a picture to make sure the image is sharp and not out-of-focus, then turn off auto-focus to freely take pictures after that point.

Another Idea

Another idea I got only after it was done snowing would be to take a ~1 second exposure of the on-camera flash in burst mode, where it flashes rapidly multiple times. I'd love to try it at different speeds and show the results. I'm definitely thinking the faster speeds would look best. If you have a camera that has a burst flash mode feature - give it a shot!

Have fun!

Check This Out Next

Are you tired of taking boring photos of the same mundane subject matter? Wouldn't you rather take your photography to the next level and photograph things that catch people's attention? If you would like to get the complete scoop and learn how to take more creative and unique shots with your DSLR, pick up my Trick Photography and Special Effects e-book and video course today!

2Jan/1227

My Photography: Best of 2011

Most photos shot using:
Nikon D300s DSLR
Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 Lens

Music:
Aphex Twin - Xtal
Jan Jelinek - Them, Their

6Dec/1018

Photographic Special Effects with Christmas Lights

This video shows you how to take psychedelic abstract long exposure photographs of Christmas lights. You'll want to set your camera's shutter speed to to BULB mode and use your camera's pop-up flash (or external flash), then spin yourself around in front of your Christmas tree. It helps if all the lights are turned off in the room except for the Christmas tree lights.

Here are the six different tricks. There will be an image on top, and an description underneath each image.

long exposure spinning in a chair next to christmas tree lights

Spin either in a chair or while standing up. Try not to move your arm, hand, or head while doing this, because it will cause unwanted camera-shake. You can experiment moving your arm up and down or something if you want to, it just will give you a different effect.

psychedelic alien long exposure slow flash sync

Hold your camera by the lens out in front of your with your right hand, twist just like you did in the first trick, only this time take your left hand and move your camera so it zooms in and rotates at the same time. If you do this several times, you should eventually get a result where the lines will twirl around you, like you are in some type of TRON video game or something. And hey, Photoshopping your face using the Liquify tool to make you look like an alien never hurts.

Christmas Tree Lights with 6X Cross Filter

Use a star filter screwed on the front of your camera lens. This will slice and the light into thin lines. This looks cool when you twirl the filter around your lens as well because the stars will appear to be "twinkling".

Abstract Golden Long Exposure of Christmas Lights

Use manual focus, still in bulb mode, and simply move your camera around your Christmas tree while the exposure is taking place. You will end up with really techy-yet-beautiful abstract photographs that you can use in backgrounds for Photoshop projects or the like.

Zoom long exposure abstract
Put your camera on a tripod and zoom in while the exposure is taking place.
Multiple Exposure of Abstract Christmas Tree Lights long exposure

If you have a higher end DSLR (I'm using a Nikon D300s) there may be a Multiple Exposure function somewhere in the camera's menu. I like to set it to ten and then take several exposures, each shot at a different focal length.

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