A zoom burst, or zoom blur, is a fantastic photographic effect which is simple, fun and easy to achieve. You can use a zoom burst to add movement and action to your photos, and to give them an abstract quality.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to get started with zoom bursts - just a DSLR with a zoom lens and an optional tripod.
If your shot is overexposed, try using a narrower aperture, fitting an ND filter or reducing the shutter speed.
Snapping a zoom blur photo is all about timing, and it can be tricky to get right, so you’ll need to be patient. Virtually any subject can produce a striking zoom effect, but generally ones with plenty of colour and pattern work best.
Instead of turning your lens’s zoom ring, hold it perfectly still and rotate the camera instead.
In the above tutorial you started with the camera zoomed out, and then moved in on the subject. The zoom burst effect is perfectly suited to night time photography because of the long exposure times involved. Rather than continuously moving the lens for the entire shot, try pausing for a moment at the start or end of the exposure, or even in the middle.
Taking zoom blur photos is all about creativity, so experiment and see if you can put your own unique twist on things.
Photographers who specialize in night photography and stair trails are somewhat of a special breed. But don’t let the fancy equipment or the prospect of staying up all night discourage you from pursuing night photography. Grant started to seriously pursue night photography when he was working fulltime as a volcano specialist – meaning the only time he had to photograph was after work when the sun had already gone down.
Four years ago, Grant gave up his work with volcanoes and started to pursue photography fulltime.
Grant rarely photographs just the night sky alone – he almost always seeks out unique elements in the landscape to combine with his night shots. The elements that Grant chooses to include in his composition come in all shapes and sizes. Grant encourages aspiring night photographers to play around with their surroundings, and not to give up when they don’t see their ideal composition right away.
We can’t harp on this one enough – good, let alone great night photographers have a solid understanding of what the moon and stars are up to at any given time during the year. To get those stellar star trail shots, night photographers know that it’s all about the rotation of the earth. Because stars appear the brightest when there is a new moon or the moon has yet to rise, photographers must make a tradeoff: no moonlight might mean better star trails, but you won’t get much illumination on the landscape. Photographers frequently ask Grant if they need to spend boatloads of money on gear to produce images like his. While the above gear isn’t technically necessary, serious professionals should look into investing in a few of these to further improve their night photography. Still, the general rule for night photography is to use the lowest ISO possible and the widest aperture available.
Since star trail images are made with either long exposures or stacking multiple short exposures, noise can be a big issue. The truth is that no matter how high the ISO or how wide your fancy lens can go, it’s pretty difficult to get a totally clean night shot.


Focusing and composing – they’re some of the most basic photographic techniques; but things get tricky when there’s no light to guide you. From there, you can make small adjustments to your focus until you get it right, and then switch back to usable ISOs.
With regards to the ‘dark frame’, could you shoot it the next day by copying the exposure details, and therefore save valuable time during the night shoot ?
If the lens cap is placed back on, as the article states, why not save your time and make a black layer in photoshop?
I’ll be back, often to read the comments so that I can make a great how to get started in night photography piece for my photo coaching web site.
Set your PASM mode dial to M and scroll the shutter speed all the way to the left past 60 seconds then Live Bulb, Live Time and finally to Live Composite. Hit the shutter again and the camera will start shooting continuously in silent (electronic-shutter) mode at the shutter speed you set in step 5. Posted in Tips & Learning and tagged with Astrophotography, Light Painting, Live Composite, Long Exposure, Olympus, Tips.
We’ll be using a long shutter speed so this will help keep the blurry lines straight. Constantly review your shots on your camera’s LCD screen and make any necessary adjustments as you go along. Try photographing things like stained glass windows or city lights as these produce some beautiful, colourful streaks. Switch things around and start with your lens fully zoomed in, and then pull out from the scene.
This freezes the subject in sharp focus, but keeps the blurred effect for added creative impact.
This isn’t so surprising when you realize how much in-depth understanding and science know-how they must possess in order to get the job done – not to mention the specialty gear required to get a quality shot at night. After speaking with Lake Tahoe-based time-lapse and night photographer Grant Kaye, who was featured in our Selling Nature Photography guide, we compiled the top 6 night photography tips to help you master the craft. The result is images that are based on reality, but contain his artistic interpretation of a scene.
It’s often the rugged or funky-looking trees native to the American Southwestern deserts, or a group of jagged rocks alongside a placid lake. Grant suggests photographers pre-visualize how they want the image to come out, and marry that with their understanding of the lunar and planetary motions. It’s a departure from the “normal” routine, but then again, so is much of night photography. Be sure to check out our guide Building Your Outdoor and Adventure Photography Business with more tips from pros to market your work, master storytelling, develop a solid workflow and attract the clients you want. Check out PhotoShelter?—?we make killer photography websites and offer over 100+ professional grade tools to help you showcase, store, share, and sell your images.
As Grant suggests you need to set your camera at its highest ISO and take a quick shot check composition and focus and then fine tune the composition as needed. If you want crips images of the stars there is a max exposure time before the rotation of the earth kicks in and causes the stars to appear blurred in your final image. One question: you said do a dark frame with another 15mons of exposure with cap on to remove noise in photoshop. In terms of marketability, though, I sell art prints and there is not much of a market for night photos.
Bulb is a very old term that comes from the film days and before electronic flashes appeared.


In a nutshell, it works by first taking a base image and after that first exposure it takes a series of further exposures while registering only the parts that have new bright pixels in them.
I recommend you also use a remote shutter cable to avoid camera shake, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. You may want to take a couple of automatic exposure shots to double-check your composition and get an idea of what ISO, aperture and shutter speed you actually need.
The camera shoots continuously until you press the shutter button again to stop it or until it reaches the 3 hour limit. If you don’t have a tripod you can stand your camera on a wall or lean against a tree. If your camera allows it, lock the focus and exposure at this point, so you know they’ll be correct when the subject is filling the frame.
Try to zoom as smoothly as possible, maintaining a constant speed throughout and finishing just before the end of your exposure.
The elements don’t take away from the starry skies, but actually add a focal point that draws the viewer into the entire image. If anyone has any further, specific questions, please feel free to shoot me an email at grant AT grantkaye DOT com, and I will do my best to answer them.
In those days if you wanted flash you had to use single-use flashbulbs that would basically explode in a flash of light. This mode combines long-exposure with compositing and it is incredibly useful and easy to use. If you will be shooting something like star trails or fireworks, you may want to look-up some guidelines for properly exposing those. You can even hand-hold your camera if you don’t mind a slightly wobbly feel to your photo - this can actually look really good, so give it a go. Brown makes a cool action that will stack a bunch of shirt (4 minute) exposures on top of themselves and create much longer star trails! The problem with those bulbs was that they were slow and hard to synchronise with your exposure.
The range of possible applications for LC is really quite large: star trails, Milky Way, auroras, light painting, light trails, streaming clouds, fireworks, low-light multiple exposures, etc. So the first exposure would be the base composition that you want, like a landscape with a house in the foreground for example. The rest of the shots would register only new light, which could be fireworks, lightning strikes or light painting for example. Keep in mind that the camera will be shooting continuously so you do not need a very long exposure to do things like light trails or star trails.
Each one of those things requires a different strategy.” Proper planning means a better chance of getting the image that you want. One of the big advantages is that the main scene of your photo will not get overexposed as the camera will not register more light in that part of the image. This is quite challenging normally as the longer you expose, the more your image’s foreground will get overexposed, forcing you to take multiple images and merging them later in Photoshop.



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