Zoom burst photography is a photography technique that is achieved by zooming your lens in or out whilst the exposure is being taken. It's a great technique for exaggerating movement or for just adding an abstract feel to an image.Colourful subjects or scenes with patterns work well as they help create a really striking zoom burst that's full of bright, colourful lines.
To get the desired effect, you'll need your zoom lens and a tripod, to keep the image steady, plus this will allow you to have your hands free to smoothly control the zoom. A zoom with a good range to play with, such as an 18-270mm, will mean you can get a really even effect, with some nice long streaks guiding the eye through the image. You'll also need a remote or cable release to eliminate any shake caused by pressing the shutter. If you don't have one, then use the self-timer setting on your camera. Using the flash on your camera or an external flash gun can help to add sharpness and freeze the image too.
Above: Tamron 18-270mm (zoomed throughout exposure); 200 ISO; f/14; 1/4 second. VC on.
Photo by David Pritchard, featured in 'the days zoom past' Tamron blog.
The key to success with this technique is to get the amount of zoom burst right. If the zoom is too obvious then it may disguise the subject. If you don't zoom enough, then the image won't have the desired effect. You don't want your exposure to be too long, otherwise your shots will be overexposed, but it needs to be long enough to enable you to create the zoom effect.
To create the effect you can zoom in or out, most people choose to zoom out.Press the shutter and wait for a while, around half to three quarters of the exposure should do it, and then you need to zoom out in a smooth and fast manner. Leaving the image to develop for half to three quarters of the exposure beforehand allows some definition to be captured in the image before the zoom is added. Try somewhere between 1-3 seconds for your starting exposure length and extended if it's needed. If you can, it's worth locking the focus, too so it stays constant.
Use a small aperture, and an ISO of 100 or 200 for the best results. If you find that your images come out overexposed, it's probably best not to make the exposure time shorter as this will make it more difficult to fit the zoom in. Fit a polarising filter or ND filter instead and try again.
It's then quick and easy to see on the screen if your attempt worked, if it didn't you can try again straight away. Experiment with the shutter speed and zoom timing until you find something that works for you and your subject. You may find you need to crop the shot for better composition but as the vanishing point will be in the middle of the frame, this won't cause any problems.
To be different, why not zoom in, try a shorter zoom, experiment with city lights at night or rotate the lens to add circular shape to your lines? If one idea doesn't work just delete the image and try again.
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