Tripping During The Holidays: The Photo Zoom Effect

If you're here, because you thought I was going to write about illicit drugs, that's awesome. My scheme to get you here worked. But seriously, here's how to create an experimental image using the zoom effect.

Copyright Jeff Schear 2012 All Rights Reserved

In essence, the idea is to get the subject to look like it's moving, either towards or away from you, depending on what your intention is. To do this you're going to need a zoom lens, and to execute a few things.

1. Adjust your camera settings, so that the shutter speed is slow enough to zoom in, or zoom out, of the subject, while the photo is being taken. In this photo I used 1/80th of a second at F 2.8. That can be a little fast, i'd recommend starting at 1/30th of a second, or even up to two seconds.. The reason I used 1/80th, was because I was doing the effect handheld, which is extremely difficult to execute without a lot of practice. Also don't forget to compensate for the slow shutter speed, by stopping down your aperture (using a bigger number), or adjusting the ISO to a smaller number. Otherwise the photo will be blown out and over-exposed.

2. Keep the camera still! If your camera moves too much, then everything will be blurry. Sometimes that effect is cool, but you'll lose the zoom effect and the only person who'll think your photo rocks, is your college roommate reppin' the tie dye tee, with dilated pupils, and The Grateful Dead looped on his/her i-Pod. Soooo...i'd recommend using a tripod, or setting your camera on a steady surface. The point is to get smooth lines, to make the photo look like it's moving.

3. Zoom at a steady pace. If you're zooming in on the subject, you'll want the pace of your zoom to be consistent and at a steady pace. Essentially, don't zoom with an inconsistent speed, you'll lose the smooth zoom line. Sometimes it's cool to experiment with firing the flash during the zoom, stopping the zoom midway, etc. But first, master the steady zoom.

4. Execute the ninja-esque zoom effect. Your shutter speed is slow, your camera is steady, you're zoomed all the way in or out, depending on your intended effect, and you're calm and collected. Press the camera-photo-taking-button (commonly known as the shutter release). Simultaneously while the photo is being taken, zoom in (or out) in a smooth manner. Stop and repeat, it takes a lot of practice. Enjoy results.