Experimental Photography

Camera by potzuyoko on Flickr

This featured article is from guest author Tom Reynolds.

Experimental photography: long exposure, infra-red and special lenses

Photographs used to be something that the average man on the street would leave to the professionals. But over the last 50 years, more and more people have been taking things into their own hands, literally! These days, the cameras on our phones will give us a great quality of photograph. However, for the professional photographer, or the avid amateur, phone cameras simply won’t do the trick. Here are some tips on experimental photography that go much further than a quick snap for Facebook. Specialist cameras give the photographer an arsenal of techniques and tricks that can help them capture some truly stunning images.

Experimental Photography

Amazingly, the image above hasn’t been edited; it uses long exposure to create an amazing effect.

Long exposure

Many of us have seen photographs of highways and roads, where car lights paint bright streams of colour along a winding path. These kinds of photos use a technique called ‘long exposure’. In basic terms, the camera and certain elements of the photograph stay still, while the camera captures the scene over the course of a few seconds, minutes or even hours! This means that things which are moving in the scene leave a trail of their path throughout the photograph – amazing!

Many photographers use this technique in low light, or at night. The slow shutter speed on the camera means that more light is taken in for a great photo, and bright objects make for very impressive trails, as can be seen in the photo above! The photographer has lit a sparkler, and moved it around a stationary car over 30 seconds!


Infrared photography is all about the spectrum of light. Who would have thought that taking a photograph would have needed a science qualification? Thankfully, camera techniques are great to learn, and understanding photography is something that many people go to university to study!

Infra-red light is not visible to the naked eye; however, filters can be applied to a camera that can pick it up. Photographers can buy infra-red film, and sensors. Because this unique range of light reacts in different ways to visible light, photographs look very different too. Infrared photos often look as though the colour has been inverted, but the light itself is simply reflected and picked up by the camera as in a normal photograph.

Infra-red photos an often produce beautiful colours and effects, sometimes the results are somewhat unexpected, but are always very interesting! Even the great Jimi Hendrix used an infrared photo on his album cover, because of the psychedelic look that the picture had!

Special lenses

Any professional photographer will tell you that the most important part of a good camera is the lens. The lens is the part of the camera that focusses the shot, which takes in the light and captures the image. As technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, so have the capabilities of camera lenses. Amazing things are possible with a normal camera, and the right kind of special lens.

Extreme close ups: macro lenses are used when objects need to be photographed in great detail. This special lens gives the photographer the ability to get extremely close to a subject, and produce an image that is the same size or larger than whatever it is they want to capture. Photos of tiny insects are often taken with a macro lens.

Fisheye: Fisheye lenses get their name from the 180 degree view that fish have in their vision. Fisheyes let the photographer take an extremely wide angle shot, producing some amazing photos of landscapes and scenery.

Zoom: Our final example of a special lens is a ‘zoom’ lens. Although the term is widely known, zoom lenses don’t just let you take a closer look at a subject from a distance. These special lenses allow for extreme wide-angle shots, amazing detail, and a great potential to toy with the focal length of the camera – even during the course of exposure!


The world of photography is vast, and more and more incredible pictures are being taken every day. Humans have a fantastic nature to be creative, and the challenge of expressing it through a photograph has brought is some truly amazing images. Whatever the time or place, now you know some more great techniques to capture your memories on film. Start your own experiments in photography today.

Guest author Tom Reynolds at Pixpod, the photobooth hire service, makes sure that no living person will miss the newest camera trends and photography tricks.

Image credits: Photo Extremist, and potzuyoko, both used under Creative Commons license.


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