How to: Zoom burst photography

How to: Zoom burst photography
By Robert on 17 Dec, 2014
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With all the sparkly baubles and lights hanging around town at Christmas time, one photography technique comes into its own incredibly well. Zoom Burst photography is an exciting method of making some fantastic and creative abstract images without any Photoshop trickery. It's so simple anyone can do it (and it doesn't have to be Christmas time).

What you'll need

To get the best results, you will need a camera where you can manually adjust the exposure settings and a zoom lens. Shutter speed will need setting around 2 to 5 seconds, your aperture to about f/10 and your ISO to around 100 or 200. Take a test shot and see how your image looks. If it's too dark, you can increase your aperture (smaller f-number), or you can increase your ISO a little. Remember that longer shutter speeds will create longer light trails.

Once you're happy with your camera settings, all you need to do to achieve the zoom burst effect is to zoom your lens in or out during the exposure manually. Press your shutter button and begin to zoom. I find that zooming in is more manageable than zooming out, but that will come down to personal choice.

Alternative techniques

As you'll see in the photos below, there are a couple of different techniques in zoom burst photography. Hand holding the camera during the exposure creates interesting squiggly trails from the light sources in the scene. Alternatively, you can mount your camera on a tripod, making the zoom burst create straight zoom lines.

You can also experiment with zooming using intermittent steps, creating a stepped effect to the light sources. Finally, try twisting the angle of the camera whilst zooming for a cool swirl effect.

The Zoom Burst Photography Technique subject

The Zoom Burst Photography Technique subject

Zoom Burst Photography #1

Zoom Burst Photography #1

Zoom Burst Photography #2

Zoom Burst Photography #2

Zoom Burst Photography #3

Zoom Burst Photography #3

Zoom Burst Photography #4

Zoom Burst Photography #4

Zoom Burst Photography #5

Zoom Burst Photography #5

Zoom Burst Photography #6

Zoom Burst Photography #6

Zoom Burst Photography #7

Zoom Burst Photography #7

Robert Rhead

About Robert Rhead

Robert Rhead is a English landscape photographer, UX/UI designer, web developer and graphic designer. He currently holds the LRPS certificate from the Royal Photographic Society, has won English and international photography awards and has featured in various high-profile photography and lifestyle magazines.

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